Jaden Rashada Sues Napier, Florida Booster; Alleges They Backed Out of $14M NIL Deal

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Jaden Rashada Sues Napier, Florida Booster; Alleges They Backed Out of $14M NIL Deal

TEMPE, ARIZONA - SEPTEMBER 9: Jaden Rashada #5 of the Arizona State Sun Devils prepares to throw a pass during the first quarter against the Oklahoma State Cowboys at Mountain America Stadium on September 9, 2023 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Bruce Yeung/Getty Images)

Bruce Yeung/Getty Images

Quarterback Jaden Rashada filed a lawsuit Tuesday against University of Florida head football coach Billy Napier and Florida booster Hugh Hathcock, among other parties, alleging unpaid name, image and likeness (NIL) money.

According to ESPN’s Paula Lavigne and Dan Murphy, Rashada alleges in the lawsuit that he was promised $13.85 million in total NIL money related to his Florida commitment. That included Napier allegedly promising Rashada’s father a $1 million partial payment on the day Rashada signed with Florida, but the money was reportedly never received.

As a result of his NIL deal with Florida falling through, Rashada received a release from his Florida letter of intent last year and signed with Arizona State instead. After starting three games for the Sun Devils last season, Rashada transferred to Georgia in April.

Rashada’s lawsuit states:

“Sadly, unethical and illegal tactics like this are more and more commonplace in the Wild West that is today’s college football landscape. 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.”

It is also noted that by committing to Florida, Rashada had to decommit from Miami and turn down a $9.5 million NIL deal he had been promised.

The lawsuit states that Hathcock gave Rashada $150,000 so he could pay back money given to him by Miami booster John Ruiz, who was part of the $9.5 million offer from Miami. That was allegedly the only payment Rashada received from Florida.

Ruiz, who is the founder of LifeWallet, provided a statement to On3’s Pete Nakos, denying that he was part of a $9.5 million offer to Rashada via Miami:

“LifeWallet nor John H. Ruiz ever had any deal with Rashada that amounted to $9.5 million. LifeWallet had a very small deal with Rashada while he was a big school student in California. Rashada and his father are stand up individuals.

“To date, I personally have a very good relationship with both. They both know we dealt with them honestly and fairly as we have always done with all NIL players. LifeWallet has a track record of complying with all of its NIL deals. LifeWallet was repaid by those controlling the Gators fundraising efforts. While I have my own view of this matter, at this point the interests of this young man should be the focus.”

Included in the lawsuit are text messages from former Florida director of player engagement and NIL Marcus Castro-Walker, who is no longer with the school but is named in the lawsuit.

The texts to Rashada’s NIL agent read: “You already know what we need to do over the next few days. Get us the QB,” and “We need to lock down Jaden!”

It is alleged that Castro-Walker later “threatened” that Napier “might walk away” from Rashada if he didn’t sign his letter of intent.

In the lawsuit, it is stated that Rashada’s agents advised him not to sign with Florida since he still hadn’t been provided a written contract regarding the NIL agreement, but Rashada decided to sign after being promised the $1 million payment.

Rashada reportedly had a contract in place with Hathcock eventually, and per The Athletic, which reviewed a copy of the contract, it called for Rashada to receive a $500,000 signing bonus, followed by monthly payments in subsequent years.

The $13.85 million was terminated less than one month after he committed to Florida. Sources told Lavigne and Murphy that a provision in the contract said it could be terminated only with cause, but no reason was given for the termination.

After moving on from Florida and joining Arizona State, Rashada completed 53.7 percent of his passes for 485 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions in three games as a freshman last season.

It is believed that Rashada is the first college athlete to sue a coach or booster due to a dispute related to NIL payments.

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