In New Age of College Sports, a First-of-Its-Kind Lawsuit

College QB sues Florida, coach over a huge name, image, and likeness deal that fell through
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 22, 2024 12:35 PM CDT
In New Age of College Sports, a First-of-Its-Kind Lawsuit
Arizona State quarterback Jaden Rashada in a game on Aug. 31, 2023, in Tempe, Ariz. He has since transferred to Georgia.   (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

If all went according to plan, Jaden Rashada would currently be the University of Florida quarterback—with a multimillion-dollar bank account to boot. Instead, he's not at the school, doesn't have the money, and has sued the school, head coach Billy Napier, and a top school booster in a first-of-its kind lawsuit in this new age of college athletics. Coverage:

  • NILs: As the Wall Street Journal explains, this mess revolves around name, image, and likeness (NIL) deals—now sanctioned by the NCAA—that allow college athletes to profit from their success. With his lawsuit, "Rashada is lifting the veil on the seedy underbelly of recruiting in the NIL era," per the story.
  • Two big deals: As one of the top high school recruits in 2023, Rashada first committed to play for Miami after a striking a $9.5 million NIL deal, per the AP. Then he switched his commitment to Florida for an even larger deal of $13.85 million. "But before Rashada could arrive on Florida's campus, the ... contract was terminated—suddenly and without warning," according to the lawsuit.

  • The booster: How and why the deal fell apart gets weedy, and CBS Sports and the Athletic run through the details. A central figure is booster Hugh Hathcock, who made his fortune in the automotive technology field. The lawsuit alleges he and the others named made "false and fraudulent" promises to Rashada to get him to ditch Miami and sign with Florida. It alleges in particular that Napier vouched for the deal under the now-defunct Gator Collective (which brokered NIL deals) and promised he'd receive a $1 million signing bonus.
  • Complicated: As an example of the convoluted nature of all this, the AP notes the lawsuit doesn't allege breach of contract, "a notable omission that likely means the NIL deal could have been terminated by either party at any point and without penalty." Instead, it alleges 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.
  • Where is now: Rashada is seeking a jury trial and $10 million in damages. After the Florida deal fell through, he signed with Arizona State, but an injury kept him out most of the season, per ESPN. He has since transferred to Georgia ahead of the upcoming season.
  • A first in 'chaotic' landscape: John Talty of CBS Sports writes that Rashada has in some ways become "the face of the chaotic nature of early NIL that was full of big promises with little oversight." The player's attorney makes a similar point: "Sadly, this type of fraud is becoming more commonplace in the Wild West that is today's college NIL landscape," says Rusty Hardin. "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." Rashada is the first player to sue over a failed NIL deal, notes ESPN.
(More college athletes stories.)

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