Gainesville, Florida. – Highly touted high school quarterback Jayden Rashada leaves Florida, a break that lasted weeks and cost the Gators one of their most valuable recruits.
Florida officially granted Rashada exemption from his national letter of intent Friday, three days after he asked to be released.
Rashada’s decision comes after the Gator Collective — an independent fundraising group loosely affiliated with the university that pays student athletes to use their name, likeness and likeness — defaulted on a four-year deal worth more than $13 million. person familiar with the situation. The man spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because neither side has publicly acknowledged the split.
A high-profile case will at least cause changes in Florida. It could also lead to legal action and a potential NCAA investigation.
On November 10, Rashada switched his verbal engagement from Miami to Florida. Rashada, his representatives and Gator Collective allegedly agreed on terms for a lucrative NIL deal during his transition.
One of Florida’s top supporters, millionaire businessman Hugh Hathcock, tweeted: “Tomorrow is going to be a great day for Gator fans!!!” the night before Rashada’s announcement. The next day, less than five hours before Rashada publicly announced his throw, Hathcock tweeted, “It’s all good!!! Some more!!!”
The deal fell through less than a month later. Athletic reported that Gator Collective CEO Eddie Rojas sent Rashada and his representatives a contract termination letter on December 7.. It’s unclear why the deal fell through, but a source familiar with the talks told the AP that not all financial backers were aware that the signed deal had risen from about $5 million in four years to more than $13 million.
Rashada failed to register with other subscribers a few days after participating in the Jan. 3 All-Star game in nearby Orlando. The 19-year-old eventually returned to the West Coast.
WHO IS RASHADA?
Rashada is a five-star QB prospect from Pittsburgh, California who is ranked 29th overall by 247Sports in the 2023 recruiting class. His father, Harlen Rashada, played defense at Arizona State (1992-94).
Jayden Rashada, 6’4″ and 185 pounds, threw for 5,275 yards with Pittsburgh last season, throwing 59 touchdowns and 18 interceptions.
His initial decision to come to Florida was seen as a boon for Gators freshman coach Billy Napier, and Rashada was expected to compete with Wisconsin transfer Graeme Merz for the starting position in Florida, which has lost five scholarship quarterbacks in the last 10 months. . Starter Anthony Richardson left early to enter the NFL Draftspare Jalen Kitna was fired after being arrested on charges of possession of child pornography.and Emory Jones and Carlos Del Rio-Wilson came over last spring.
Florida also had their eyes on Tulane’s Michael Pratt and Wake Forest’s Sam Hartman, but Pratt returned to Tulane and Hartman landed at Notre Dame. The Gators also missed out on former LSU quarterback Walker Howard, who is moving to Mississippi despite a long relationship with Napier.
Rashada can register elsewhere without going to the transfer portal. He was already connected with the state of Arizona and Washington.
It remains to be seen whether Rashada will sue Gator Collective, along with perhaps the sports department and the university, in the hope of getting at least some of the $13 million promised to him. Perhaps he could have asked for more if he felt his reputation had been damaged.
The Gators may still need help in the all-important QB position with just three quarterback scholarship holders: Merz, Miller and redshirt freshman Max Brown. A more important question: How will Rashada’s failed recruitment impact future prospects?
WHAT ARE THE POTENTIAL CONSEQUENCES?
Florida is already planning to encourage its collectives to make changes, one possibility being a merger between the Gator Collective and the more exclusive Gator Guard. Personnel changes within the team are also expected.
The NCAA can also investigate. The sanctioning body has rules regarding NIL transactions. Boosters and Zero Support Organizations are not permitted to engage in recruiting conversations or events for potential student athletes, and no promises may be made between family members and Boosters or Zero Organizations that are contingent on the placement of a potential student athlete at an educational institution.
According to Florida lawyer Darren Heitner, who works with Gator Collective, collectives get around these rules with zip codes. The clauses use contract language to indicate that student-athletes must reside in a particular jurisdiction in order for the agreements to be payable.
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