SEC News: UGA QB suing Florida coach, booster for alleged NIL-related recruiting lies

It’s not too often that you see SEC rivalries come all the way to the courtroom, but here we are.
[Matt Pendleton/Gainesville Sun]Ncaa Football Florida Gators Vs South Carolina Gamecocks
[Matt Pendleton/Gainesville Sun]Ncaa Football Florida Gators Vs South Carolina Gamecocks / Matt Pendleton / USA TODAY NETWORK

SEC News: Jaden Rashada files lawsuit against Florida HC Billy Napier, former Gators staffer, UF booster for alleged NIL-related lies

This is not the kind of news you expect to see in the SEC every day, but the new era of college football continues to surprise us—in both good and bad ways. This just appears to be another sign of how untenable things are growing with the current model, especially as regards NIL compensation.

A former five-star Miami and Florida commit who ended up at Arizona State before transferring to Georgia, QB Jaden Rashada, has filed a lawsuit against certain Gators personnel and related individuals after a highly-publicized departure from Gainesville and release from his National Letter of Intent. It was after this split that Rashada headed to Tempe, and he has now transferred to Athens.

According to the report from On3’s Pete Nakos, court documents allege that a $13.85MM contract was offered and then reneged upon by the NIL collective, at which point Rashada requested a release from his LOI. If true, that seems like a recipe for trouble that should have been easily foreseen by the collective—I’m not sure what they would have expected.

Again from Nakos’s report, Rashada filed a 37-page complaint, claiming that “he was repeatedly lied to for him to flip his commitment from Miami to Florida.” The individuals named in the complaint are Florida HC Billy Napier, former Gators staffer Marcus Castro-Walker, and a UF booster named Hugh Hathcock, as well as Hathcock’s previous company Velocity Automotive.

An important and notable tidbit is that Nakos also reports that Georgia HC Kirby Smart is “ware of the lawsuit being filed and signed off on it.” This is obviously a seismic move in the division (though, I suppose it’s only a division for a month or so longer), and Smart would be aware of just how ground-shaking this could potentially be.

I am not a lawyer, but I have watched plenty of Better Call Saul, so here’s my take for whatever those credentials are worth: if this gets to court, it could be potentially extremely bad for Florida. If I’m the Gators, I want to settle rather than go to trial—imagine the kind of information that could be exposed if text messages from booster, coaches, and more were subject to the discovery process and went public.

This is yet another bellwether that things are becoming increasingly unsustainable with the current model for player compensation. You don’t want to just slap on a band-aid fix, but the circumstances are beginning to demand that something changes quickly.