College Football, NIL and Jaden Rashada's saga tarnishing careers

The wildest NIL saga has evolved into Jaden Rashada versus Billy Napier and how can anyone be surprised?
Alan Youngblood/Gainesville Sun / USA

The latest episode of the Jaden Rashada's saga should surprise no one. Despite well-intentioned efforts at the start of the NIL era, it was destined for rampant abuse. With no guardrails, for it to rapidly evolve into 'pay for play' and 'pay to sign' was inevitable.

Also predictable was that financial commitments made to players and recruits would not always be honored. It is not an extreme portrayal to suggest the NIL terrain has turned into a minefield, for many coaches, along with boosters and more than a few players.

The biggest NIL dispute is not new, but its recent turn is dramatic.

Let's review what has been reported about the recruitment, signing, transfer of, and litigation involving Jaden Rashada. According to 247Sports, Rashada was the No. 6 rated QB in the 2023 class and the No. 44 ranked player. In June 2022 Rashada committed to Miami. On Nov. 10, 2022, he decommitted from Miami and committed to Florida. Six weeks later he signed with the Florida Gators. Less than a month later, Rashada decided not to play football for Florida. Quickly he chose Arizona State for the 2023 season. During the 2023 season, he played in three games. He entered the Transfer Portal in April and soon committed to the Georgia Bulldogs. Currently, he is one of the backups to Carson Beck.

Purportedly the motivation for some of Rashada's many changed directions is NIL deals. It is believed his deal with Life Wallet and Miami booster, John Ruiz was $9.5M. Purportedly Rashada backed out of the Miami deal because the Florida Gators offered him $13.85M. A counter statement from John Ruiz claimed, Rashada's Miami deal "was very small."

The most recent development is a lawsuit filed by Rashada against Billy Napier and a top Florida booster. The lawsuit contends the terms of the deal were never honored by Napier and others. The lawsuit alleges Napier texted Rashada and offered a $1M signing bonus that was never paid. Also reported was that Rashada's NIL contract was terminated by Florida before he arrived on campus.

Will Florida step back from Napier and possibly use the lawsuit as an excuse to terminate his contract? The school's first response to the lawsuit offered no defense of Napier's alleged actions, "We do not comment on ongoing litigation, and neither the University Athletic Association nor the University (of Florida) are named in the complaint. The UAA will provide for Coach Napier's personal counsel, and we will direct all questions to those representatives.”

For months rumors have circulated that Rashada's handlers were never satisfied with any of his NIL deals, suggesting their efforts to re-do the deals led to departures from the Miami and Florida programs.

There have been no reports of NIL deals for Rashada at Arizona State or Georgia. If the past rumors carry any accuracy, it is hard to believe searching for a big payout suddenly ended with Rashada's exit from the Florida program.

Predicting how the lawsuit will end is folly. A more solid perspective is that Billy Napier, already under duress in Florida, has had his position worsened.

Even the staunchest supporters of the NIL Era might agree that the Jaden Rashada saga is a mess of large proportion. And few college football fans can claim what Napier and Florida 'may' have done is uncommon.