UGA’s Rashada suing UF’s Napier, booster over NIL saga

UGA’s Rashada suing UF’s Napier, booster over NIL saga

Georgia transfer quarterback Jaden Rashada has filed a federal lawsuit against Florida head coach Billy Napier, top booster Hugh Hathcock and ex-staffer Marcus Castro-Walker over a botched name, image and likeness deal.

The lawsuit, which was filed this morning in Pensacola, alleges that Napier, Hathcock and others fraudulently persuaded Rashada to sign with Florida with no intention of paying the $13.85 million promised to the four-star QB prospect during his senior year of high school.

The 37-page lawsuit says, “Hathcock (on behalf of himself and Velocity Automotive), Castro-Walker and Coach Napier orchestrated and executed a fraud upon Jaden and were substantially and knowingly assisted by one another in carrying out the fraud. Each of their individual schemes would not have succeeded without assistance from one another.”

The complaint also states, “Defendants’ goals were two-fold: (1) to ensure Jaden remained committed to UF; and (2) to avoid paying the promised NIL funds. Defendants knew that for most college athletes the prospect of NIL earnings is life changing. Defendants exploited this fact for their own personal advantage.”

Rashada had signed a $9.5 million NIL deal with Miami booster John Ruiz when he committed to the Hurricanes on June 26 of 2022. However, he flipped to the Gators in November, and the complaint says that Hathcock provided Rashada with $150,000 to pay Ruiz to avoid potential litigation.

The deal with UF was signed on Nov. 10 of 2022 and promised a $500,000 signing bonus that was due to be paid on Dec. 5 of 2022. The lawsuit claims that Hathcock never had any intention of paying the 500K, and Napier knew that all along.

One day after the first payment was supposed to be delivered, Rashada was sent a termination letter of the $13.85 million deal from the Gator Collective, which was UF’s initial NIL program that no longer exists.

From there, the complaint alleges that Napier and Castro-Walker continued to assure Rashada that the deal was still in place. Instead of being paid by the Gator Collective, the payments would now come from the Gator Guard, a separate NIL arm for Florida headed by Hathcock.

Although no money had been paid yet, Rashada did sign his letter of intent to play at UF on Dec. 21. The lawsuit alleges that he did so on assurances from Napier about the cash and a threat from Castro-Walker that the deal and scholarship offer could get pulled if he didn’t sign with the Gators on National Signing Day.

Rashada was scheduled to enroll at UF in January of 2022 but when no payment whatsoever arrived, he never showed up in Gainesville. Later in January, Rashada officially requested a release from his letter of intent, which was granted, paving the way for him to go to Arizona St.

As a true freshman at ASU, Rashada was the Week 1 starter and led his team to a 24-21 non-covering home win over Southern Utah. He completed 18-of-31 passes for 236 yards and two touchdowns without an interception.

In a 27-15 home loss to Oklahoma St. in Week 2, Rashada connected on 16-of-29 throws for 167 yards with one TD and one interception. However, an injury forced him to miss ASU’s next nine games.

Rashada was able to return and start in the regular-season finale, a 59-23 home loss to Arizona. He completed 10-of-22 passes for 82 yards and one TD, but he was intercepted twice.

For the season, Rashada connected on 53.7 percent of his passes for 485 yards with a 4/3 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

In late April after entering the transfer portal, Rashada committed to Georgia, where he’ll compete with redshirt sophomore Gunner Stockton and true freshman Ryan Puglisi for the backup job behind Carson Beck.