The highly touted high school All-American quarterback Jaden Rashada has entered an awkward phase of his relationship with the University of Florida after an eight-figure NIL deal fell through.
And while not the explicit reason for his flipping of Sunshine State schools, a $13 million NIL deal from the “Gator Collective” booster group likely played a small role, at the very least, in Rashada’s decision.
The idea of college athletes being paid for their name, image and likeness was always a polarizing one — and it’s becoming increasingly clear as to why.
On the one hand: College athletics, college football in particular, is a multi-billion dollar business. It only seems too fair to allow the athletes who comprise that lucrative business to earn, at the very least, a sliver of the pie.
On the other hand: Money complicates things.
As originally reported on by The Athletic, the Gator Collective apparently did not have that kind of money to throw at Rasahada and ultimately reneged on that deal.
The deal fell through despite the Gator Collective’s boldest assurances that they only operated within their means.
“I would venture to say the Gator Collective is paying more guaranteed money than any group in the country,” Eddie Rojas, a former Florida Gator athlete and head of the Gator Collective, said in April, Fox News reported.
“When I write a contract, I want to make sure that we actually have the money in our account.”
Despite Rojas’s above remarks, he ultimately sent a letter to Rashada in December looking to terminate the pricey NIL deal.
So where does that currently leave all parties?
That’s where it could get interesting. Fox noted that Rashada has indicated that he plans to still attend the University of Florida (indeed, his personal Twitter account still shows a retweet on Dec. 21, after Rojas would’ve sent the termination letter, that reflects a desire to be a Gator).
But actions speak louder than words, and Rashada’s actions may tell a different story than his social media presence.
As both Fox News and the U.K. Daily Mail noted, Rashada has not actually enrolled at Florida yet. Early spring enrollment, which many top football recruits take advantage of to acclimate more quickly to college, has already passed — and Rashada wasn’t there.
The Daily Mail even reported that, according to its sources, Rashada had returned to the West Coast and was refusing to suit up for Florida now.
Rashada’s father, Harlen Rashada, refuted those reports to 247 Sports, however.
“Jaden has not filed a request for release from Florida,” the elder Rashada said. “He is still signed with Florida.”
But while Rashada may still be a Gator, his father made it clear that not all is well.
“We’re working through some things right now with Florida and hoping that they get resolved soon,” Harlen Rashada said. “Jaden has been excited about the next chapter of his academic and athletic career and is eagerly anticipating early enrollment in Gainesville.”
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