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Quarterback Jaden Rashada Sues Coach for False Promises

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Current Georgia quarterback and former Florida recruit Jaden Rashada claims in a lawsuit that Gators coach Billy Napier and others made false and fraudulent promises.

Destin, FLJaden Rashada, former Florida recruit and current Georgia quarterback, filed a lawsuit in federal court last month accusing Gators coach Billy Napier and others of fraud and other allegations. The lawsuit stems from a $13.85 million name, image and likeness deal that backfired.

Along with Napier, top Gators booster Hugh Hathcock and former University of Florida staffer Marcus Castro-Wake have been accused of “fraudulent misrepresentation and inducement, aiding and abetting fraud, civil conspiracy to commit fraud, negligent misrepresentation, tortious interference with a business relationship or contract and aiding and abetting tortious interference.”

According to the lawsuit, the trio recruited the star high school quarterback to attend UF with no intention of paying a $13.85 million name, image and likeness deal – known as “NIL” – that cost him a legitimate deal he had lined up at a different school, reported Law360

Hathcock was supposed to fund Rashada’s deal through his company, Velocity Automotive, or the [NIL collective] Gator Guard to directly fund the promised NIL payments. Instead, the three dangled a carrot by promising an initial $500,000 payment in return for Rashada publicly announcing his commitment to the school in November 2022. The lawsuit says, "Then, less than a month later without any warning, the Gator Collective abruptly and unilaterally terminated it…Despite defendants' many representations to the contrary, however, it ultimately became clear that the defendants never intended to pay Jaden the $500,000..." Instead, Napier and Hathcock coerced Rashada through false promises to forgo NIL deals from other programs—including $9.5 million from Miami: “Defendants attempted to strong-arm Jaden into an NIL contract worth a fraction of what they promised.”

(Hathcock is described in the lawsuit as a 64-year-old entrepreneur who has clearly been successful—and public—about his business endeavors with various media reports estimating his net worth at $500 million.)

The coach and boosters continued to dangle the carrot, and bumped up the initial payment to $1 million, but by January Rashada had not received the promised funding and it was obvious that the defendants never intended to make good on their promises. The lawsuit says, "But once Jaden committed to UF, rather than make Jaden 'rich' as promised, these people — with Hathcock leading the charge — changed their tune and went back on their word…The amount of UF-affiliated NIL money available for Jaden decreased drastically."

Jaden Rashada, born in 2003, was a 19-year-old college football prospect at the time of events in his complaint. He grew up in a football family in working-class Pittsburg, California, graduated from Pittsburg High in 2022 with a 4.0 GPA, and was ranked seventh nationally in the Class of 2023 college-bound quarterbacks. Along with UF, Rashada was recruited by several of the country’s elite college football programs, including Louisiana State University, Texas A&M University, University of Oregon, University of Mississippi, and University of Miami. In January 2023, Rashada withdrew his December 2022 letter of intent to the Gators and went to play at Arizona State University without a NIL deal. He was selected to play with the University of Georgia beginning in the 2024-25 school year.

NIL College Football

Student-athletes can now be paid for the use of their name, image and likeness, more commonly known as NIL. According to the lawsuit, “Jaden’s miserable experience reveals in stark and dramatic detail what can happen to young student-athletes when wealthy, win-at-all-cost alumni insert themselves into college football’s recruiting process.”

Rashada’s lawsuit explains that the NIL game starts with the relationship between a university’s sports program and its alumni, boosters, and funding organizations known as “collectives.” These entities, which are new to college athletics, play a crucial role in making NIL opportunities possible and in aiding in recruitment, such as Hathcock’s involvement. The New York Times reports that the unusual NIL bidding war between Florida and Miami boosters for Rashada came amid the emergence of school-specific NIL collectives — independent organizations that provide monetary NIL opportunities for college athletes predominantly by fundraising money from donors, fans and boosters. Less than two years later, collectives are ubiquitous and play a key role in college football recruiting.

According to The Athletic, Rashada’s contract would have paid him a staggering $13.85 million over four years, starting with a $500,000 payment on Dec. 5, in return for minimal NIL services such as posting on social media and autographing items.

Rashada v. Hathcock et al

The lawsuit likens today’s college football landscape to the Wild West, where “unethical and illegal tactics like this are more and more commonplace”. The complaint says that, “As the first scholar-athlete to take a stand against such egregious behavior by adults who should know better, Jaden seeks to hold Defendants accountable for their actions and to expose the unchecked abuse of power that they shamelessly wielded.

Rashada v. Hathcock et al., case number 3:24-cv-00219 was filed May 21, 2024 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida Pensacola Division. The complaint seeks a jury trial and damages of at least $10 million.


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