Jaden Rashada-Florida NIL lawsuit: what to know, what comes next

Why Jaden Rashada won't be last athlete to file a lawsuit over NIL deal (1:27)

Paula Lavigne notes that former Florida recruit Jaden Rashada is the first athlete to file a lawsuit over an NIL deal, but she anticipates he won't be the last. (1:27)

Jaden Rashada, a former ESPN 300 quarterback recruit, sued the University of Florida and coach Billy Napier on Tuesday. Rashada is claiming he was defrauded of millions of dollars in name, image and likeness money.

The lawsuit, among other things, alleges that Napier promised the player's father a $1 million "partial payment" upon signing. Rashada never got the money, and the boosters never fulfilled the deal, the lawsuit states.

It is the latest in a long saga involving the player and the school. Now, Rashada is the first college athlete known to sue his coach or a booster due to a dispute over an NIL deal.

What's next for Rashada and Florida? Our reporters break it down.

How did we get here?

Rashada was ranked No. 31 overall in the 2023 class and had a prep career that featured several transfers. His freshman season in high school was played at Liberty High School (Brentwood, California). He then transferred to IMG Academy in Florida before going back to California to play three seasons at Pittsburg (California) High School. His college decision came down to two Florida schools and two big NIL numbers.

Rashada committed to the Miami Hurricanes in June 2022. The lawsuit states that Rashada had a $9.5 million NIL promise with the Canes. But Rashada decommitted that November and promptly flipped to the Florida Gators and Coach Napier. He signed his national letter of intent during the December signing period. However, he didn't enroll at Florida, and his arrival in Gainesville was contingent on a four-year, $13.85 million NIL deal. Rashada asked for a release from his letter of intent when the deal fell through.

The Gator Collective, an independent fundraising organization that distributed money to UF athletes at the time, was responsible for the deal. However, the financial backing did not materialize, and the Gator Collective terminated the contract. Rashada was released from his letter of intent. He then took a visit to Arizona State and committed to play for the Sun Devils, arriving on campus in July 2023.

Rashada started the first two games of the season for Arizona State, but an injury kept him out for most of the season. In three games, he was 44-of-82 for 485 yards, with four touchdowns and three interceptions.

Rashada entered the transfer portal on April 18 and is now transferring to Georgia, where he will have four years of eligibility remaining. -- Tom VanHaaren

What's next for Rashada?

Georgia emerged as Rashada's likely transfer destination soon after he entered the portal. He selected the Bulldogs on April 25, captioning his Instagram announcement, "Compete with the BEST." Rather than vying for the starting job at ASU with emerging Michigan State transfer Sam Leavitt, Rashada enters a situation where he will play behind Georgia's Carson Beck, a top Heisman Trophy contender and NFL hopeful.

Barring an injury to Beck, Rashada will use the 2024 season for developmental purposes, while absorbing a different offense under coordinator Mike Bobo in Athens.

A realistic goal would be to start in 2025 for a Bulldogs team always in the national title hunt. He would need to beat out primary challenger Gunner Stockton, who enters his third season in the Georgia program and gained valuable experience this spring. Both Stockton and incoming freshman Ryan Puglisi ranked among ESPN's top 110 recruits in their respective classes. Coach Kirby Smart likes to have four scholarship quarterbacks on his roster at all times, and the team has a 2025 commitment from ESPN 300 recruit Ryan Montgomery.

Rashada is the most decorated quarterback prospect of the bunch, but he will need to adjust quickly, especially with Stockton ahead on the learning curve. -- Adam Rittenberg

How did this affect Florida on the field?

The Gators signed Rashada in December 2022, anticipating he would compete for the starting job with veteran Graham Mertz, who transferred in from Wisconsin. Without him, the job went to Mertz, who threw for 2,903 yards, completed 73% of his passes and threw 20 touchdown passes to three interceptions last season. Losing Rashada did not help Napier from a public relations standpoint, as he drew ire from the Florida fan base -- especially after a 5-7 finish to 2023.

Florida did have a plan for its future, though, as Napier had a longstanding commitment from D.J. Lagway, the top-rated quarterback in the class of 2024. Lagway committed to Florida just weeks before Rashada signed his letter of intent, and the Gators were in a massive fight to keep Lagway as other schools went after him as signing day approached last December. Lagway has said Clemson, USC and Texas A&M all made late pushes, but he ultimately signed with the Gators and enrolled early, going through spring football.

His decision to come to Florida was absolutely huge for Napier, who has yet to find solid footing headed into Year 3 and desperately needed Lagway to sign. Mertz is back for one more season and is the presumptive starter. But there is a lot riding on this season for Florida and for Napier in particular. With the season opener against rival Miami, Florida fans want to see progress and results immediately. If Mertz struggles, do not be surprised if fans start calling for Lagway. -- Andrea Adelson

Could the Gators face any NCAA repercussions from Rashada's claims?

The NCAA alerted Florida almost a year ago that it was investigating claims that the football program had violated recruiting rules, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press. ESPN's Mark Schlabach confirmed the investigation was related to Rashada's recruitment.

Rashada claims in his lawsuit that Napier directly promised Rashada a $1 million payment from a booster if he signed with Florida, which would be a violation of the NCAA's policies. The NCAA penalized Florida State and suspended one of its coaches in January for getting involved in NIL offers made to a prospect.

However, the NCAA sent a letter to its schools in late February explaining that it was pausing all open enforcement cases "involving third-party participation in NIL-related activities" after a federal judge in Tennessee granted an injunction that prohibited the NCAA from enforcing some of its rules. That case was filed by Tennessee's attorney general after the NCAA opened an investigation into the Vols' recruiting tactics.

Any other high-profile enforcement actions taken by the NCAA -- such as a penalty for Napier or the Gators -- could invite additional lawsuits at a time when the association remains vulnerable to antitrust scrutiny, which makes it unlikely that any NCAA punishments could be coming soon. -- Dan Murphy