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Jaden Rashada sues Billy Napier, Florida booster for NIL failure, fraud in recruitment

Palmber-Thombsby:Palmer Thombs05/21/24


Georgia quarterback Jaden Rashada and his family are suing Florida head coach Billy Napier and Hugh Hathcock, a key member of the Gators’ NIL operation, for a $13.85 million deal that went through during Rashada’s recruitment out of high school. Filing a complaint in the Pensacola, Fla. U.S. District Court, Rashada charges Napier and Hathcock with fraudulent misrepresentation and inducement, aiding and abetting fraud, civil conspiracy to commit fraud, negligent misrepresentations, tortious inference with a business relationship or contract, aiding and abetting tortious interference and vicarious liability, seeking a jury trail and damages of at lest $10 million.

“Sadly, this type of fraud is becoming more commonplace in the Wild West that is today’s college NIL landscape,” said Rusty Hardin, an attorney representing Rashada, in a shared statement. “Wealthy alumni, consumed by their schools’ athletic programs,  are taking advantage of young people by offering them life-changing sums of money, only to renege on their commitments. As the first scholar-athlete to take a stand against this egregious behavior, Jaden seeks to hold these defendants accountable for their actions and to expose their as-yet unchecked abuse of power.”

Rashada was a highly sought after prospect coming out of Pittsburg (Calif.) High School in the Class of 2023. Ranked the No. 6 quarterback in the country according to the On3 Industry Ranking, Rashada initially committed to Miami in June of 2022. There he had agreed to an NIL deal worth $9.5 million.

Florida was persistent in its recruitment of Rashada however, and according to the complaint, Hathcock spoke with him during a visit to Gainesville – telling him “whatever Jaden needed to come to UF, (he) would make happen.” With an offer funded through both Hathcock’s company (Velocity Automotive Solutions) and the NIL collective group Gator Guard he founded, Rashada eventually flipped to Florida in November of 2022.

Rashada signed with the Gators in December of that year, but that was far from the end of his recruiting saga. Announcing a release from his National Letter of Intent in January, Rashada found a new home at Arizona State. At the time, the falling through of the NIL was largely rumored as the primary factor for his release. The lawsuit filed Tuesday all but confirms that.

Former Florida Director of Player Engagement and NIL Marcus Castro-Walker is also included as a defendant in the lawsuit. Text message exchanges between combinations of Rashada, Napier, Hathcock, Castro-Walker and a pair of NIL agents acting on Rashada’s behalf serve as evidence presented in the complaint filed Tuesday.



Rashada would go on to spend a single season at Arizona State, appearing in three games for the Sun Devils. The 6-foot-4, 185-pound signal caller completed 44 of his 82 attempts for 485 yards and four touchdowns, throwing three interceptions. He was the starter for Arizona State to open the season, throwing for 236 yards and two touchdowns in his collegiate debut before injuries derailed the first year.

With Michigan State transfer Sam Leavitt having separated himself from a banged up Rashada this spring, Rashada entered the transfer portal in April and decided upon Georgia as his next destination. Rashada is expected to be the Bulldogs’ backup in 2024 with Heisman Trophy favorite Carson Beck returning. UGA also has redshirt sophomore Gunner Stockton and true freshman Ryan Puglisi on scholarship in the quarterback room.

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