University of Georgia QB Jaden Rashada sues rival university head coach and others alleging broken promises worth millions

University of Georgia quarterback Jaden Rashada filed a lawsuit in federal court Tuesday accusing University of Florida head football coach William “Billy” Napier and others of fraud and failing to pay a purportedly promised $13.85 million name, image and likeness (NIL) agreement.

Rashada alleges Hugh Hathcock, a longtime University of Florida booster, along with Napier, never intended to pay Rashada the millions promised to sign with the Gators in 2022 after the high school senior had originally intended to play at the University of Miami.

At the time, Rashada was a highly coveted high school quarterback out of Pittsburg, CA. According to 247 Sports, Rashada was the nation’s sixth-highest rated quarterback.

The lawsuit alleges the $13.85 million, funded by “Hathcock’s Gator Guard collective” was promised to Rashada on December 7, 2022. The Gators’ backers also arranged a payment to Rashada to help pay off money owed to University of Miami booster John Ruiz after the quarterback flipped his verbal commitment from the Hurricanes, per the suit.

Eight months earlier, Hathcock made a $12.6 million pledge to Gator Boosters, according to the University of Florida. The school said it was the single largest financial gift in the organization’s history.

Hathcock’s company Velocity Automotive Solutions is listed as a defendant in the lawsuit. Rashada alleges the purported money offered was to be partially funded by Velocity Automotive Solutions.

CNN has reached out to Hathcock, Velocity Automotive Solutions and Ruiz for comment.

According to Rashada and his attorney Rusty Hardin, Napier promised the-then-high school senior that Florida alumni “were good on their promise that Jaden would receive $1 million if he signed with UF on National Signing Day.”

Rashada throws a pass against the Arizona Wildcats. - Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters
Rashada throws a pass against the Arizona Wildcats. - Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

The lawsuit alleges Marcus Castro-Walker, Florida’s former director of player engagement and NIL, “threatened – on National Signing Day – that, if Jaden did not sign a national letter of intent with UF, Coach Napier might walk away from Jaden entirely.”

When asked for a comment from the school and Napier, spokesperson Steve McClain of the University Athletic Association (UAA), the athletic department for the University of Florida, told CNN: “We do not comment on ongoing litigation, and neither the University Athletic Association nor the University are named in the complaint.

“The UAA will provide for Coach Napier’s personal counsel, and we will direct all questions to those representatives.”

CNN attempted to contact Castro-Walker for comment.

The 37-page lawsuit states: “Deceitful promises such as these did indeed convince Jaden to flip and sign a $13.85 million NIL deal with the Gator Collective. But once Jaden committed to UF, rather than make Jaden ‘rich’ as promised, these people – with Hathcock leading the charge – changed their tune and went back on their word.”

CNN has reached out to Rashada and Hardin for comment.

According to the complaint, Rashada withdrew his intent to play for Florida and signed with Arizona State in 2023. The lawsuit states: “Jaden neither sought nor was promised any type of NIL commitment from Arizona State.”

Rashada announced on X on last month he had officially entered the transfer portal after just one season with the Sun Devils. He played in just three games for Arizona State – tossing four touchdowns and three interceptions.

On April 27, Rashada announced on X he was a Georgia Bulldog and intends to play for the team in the upcoming 2024 season.

In the lawsuit, Rashada’s decision to attend Georgia was “not in response to any promises, assurances, or offers connected to NIL money.”

CNN has reached out to the University of Georgia and the NCAA for comment.

Georgia and Florida are Southeastern Conference (SEC) rivals and are set to face off again on the football field on November 2 in Jacksonville, Florida. The SEC foes have faced each other in an annual football game since 1926 - held yearly in Jacksonville since 1933.

CNN’s Wayne Sterling contributed to this report.

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