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Edgar Thompson, Orlando Sentinel Florida Gators Reporter

JR Sports Brief / JR
The Truth Network Radio
May 21, 2024 7:50 pm

Edgar Thompson, Orlando Sentinel Florida Gators Reporter

JR Sports Brief / JR

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May 21, 2024 7:50 pm

Edgar Thompson joined JR to discuss Jaden Rashada suing Billy Napier and the precedent this could set for players moving forward.

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That's greenlight.com slash odyssey. Edgar, thank you for taking the time to hop on. Sure thing, man. Good to meet you. Oh, pleasure. Now, can you give us a summation as to what took place?

This is kind of unusual. I tell you, man, my head's almost spinning, but Jaden Rishada was a Florida signee back in 2023 class. He signed December 21, 2022.

Okay, so we're going back a little while. He originally committed to Miami, and if you recall back then, John Ruiz, the CEO and founder of Life Wallet, was raking in the big-time recruits because of the NIL program down there in Coral Gables. So the Gators, Rishada committed, reportedly for a big pile of cash, and it supposedly was 9.5 million. Well, the Gators flipped Rishada in November of 2022, so a month or so before signing day, and everyone's like, huh, how'd they do that?

Well, it surfaces later. I actually ended up breaking the story, believe it or not. I had not all the nitty-gritty details, but enough to report he had been offered a $13-plus million deal, and that was what had him flip his commitment. Well, the Gators Collective, which is a third-party entity that kind of raises money for the NIL cause for the program that can't really be involved with that, particularly at that time, had offered this deal unbeknownst to Billy Napier, allegedly, but his NIL director, Marcus Castro-Walker, was involved with it, as was mega-booster Hugh Hathcock.

If you're following all of this, you're doing well. So this group of three guys, Hathcock, Marcus Castro-Walker, and Billy Napier, actually, who wasn't really supposedly involved in at least putting this deal together, are now being sued because they were nagged on the deal, Rashada ended up reneging on his commitment, and went to Arizona State where his father, Harlan, who helped orchestrate this deal, was a player, his alma mater. Well, that didn't work out for Jaden, and now he's at Georgia. So it's really a lot of moving parts, it's a huge mess for a guy who's 11-14 in two seasons, facing tremendous headwinds to build this program back, the respectability, and he's got an incredibly tough schedule, he's got fans, you know, the natives are restless, so to speak, and now you've got this. It's just tough sledding for Billy Napier, and this is just another brick in the wall for the guy.

So it's been a day trying to sort through all of it, and there's details I've left out, but I'll let you kind of chime in with your thoughts or any questions you might have. Edgar Thompson is here with us from the Orlando Sentinel, it's the JR Sport Reshow on the Infinity Sports Network. You talk about Billy Napier, you think about his two years already with the Gators, with last season picking up five victories.

What's next? I mean, could he eventually be removed for issues not on the football field, but because of potential legalities with this lawsuit? Well, they're trying to settle, they're looking for 10 million in damages, which is pretty absurd. Now here's the deal, I didn't mention this, and this is where the hole didn't know about it, and then when he found out, put the kibosh on this deal, which I believed, and I'm not saying I don't believe it, but I'm more skeptical of that now, because according to this suit, on signing day, he told Harlan Rashadah, the quarterback's father, that they would wire Hugh Haftock to booster and wire him a million dollars, but he was currently flying. That day we showed up for a three o'clock press conference, it didn't start until five, and the original signee sheet didn't include Jaden Rashadah, but he was in the fold by five o'clock. So there's something that happens, and if they get in a court of law and get a jury trial, and they find Billy Napier or this group of three defendants guilty on some level, you could feasibly get rid of them for cause, and then the buyout of 25 million dollars they're going to face after year three goes away. I don't have all the, you know, legalities, keys, cross, dies, dotted, but you could see that path potentially, I don't know that UF's going to try to play that card, it could try it, but you're in May, man, we're almost in SEC spring meetings next week, the summer off-season programs began, you can't change your coach at this point, so they're going to have to ride with Billy at least through this year, he was already on the hot seat, but if it doesn't work out this year, and then all of a sudden you got this, suddenly he could be gone with a very pittance compared to what he would do otherwise. Well, Edgar, it's my understanding that the NCAA was already looking at the promises that were initially made to Jaden from Florida, so what is the NCAA's current role in, I guess, investigating any of this, if at all? Well, the NCAA did launch an investigation, but I think it was last week at the ACC meeting, Charlie Baker, the president, pretty new president there, who's really trying to get his hands, you know, arms around this whole NIL mess that's going on, God help him, I don't know how he's going to do it, I mean the horse is out of the barn there, but he is trying to, he said for now, all investigations related to NIL are suspended, so it seemed the Gators dodged a bullet, it seemed the Gators dodged a bullet when Rashada transferred and then transferred again, all that seemed, it seemed to be behind them, well here it is again, this story just like I said will never go away, I'm tired of it. Edgar Thompson here from the Orlando Sentinel, when you look at the details and you look at someone like Rusty Harden who's helping to litigate this on behalf of Jaden Rashada, is this now setting a precedent, do you think this is so complicated, other college athletes will just say I'm not getting involved, do you think this is going to open the door for more of these issues across the country? It certainly could set a precedent, if there are other young men who've been offered deals that weren't followed through upon and you got to think that's the case, I don't know about $13.85 million over four years that's so public, but who knows what's been offered, hasn't been met, you hear all the time that some of these checks, not aren't clearing but things are, you're having to raise funds like every quarter or every month or whatever, they're shortfalls with these NIL collectives, this money just doesn't, it's not an unending spigot, most schools don't have the resources to compete at this level with these schools and Florida is now on its second main collective, it's using Florida Victorious now and that's 13 months since they replaced the Gator collective that was involved with this Rashada mess, but I guess what I'm saying it's a moving, the rules and the landscape keep changing and I'll tell you what doesn't change is the money just keeps going up, so, and now you got the revenue sharing thing coming out and this whole thing and part of the reason for that is some litigation for sure, but it also could be an eventual out for these programs so an expensive one, so you don't have to keep this constant negotiation going on with players extorting coaches for more money or they're going to transfer or transfers coming in that are asking for huge price tags because the market favors them, it's just turned into a real mess, I'm not saying that players don't deserve their share, these football players sacrifice, they take a lot more risk than maybe the lacrosse team that's playing in the final four this week and they fund that program, so they should get something, but it's gotten out of control man. And Edgar Thompson joining us here from the Orlando Sentinel, it's the JR Sport Brief Show on the Infinity Sports Network, when you talk about all the changes that are going on, not just in Florida, but across the college athletics landscape, do you see the parameters going up, at least over the next several years where we got a little bit more clarity, you can't hop in and out the portal and we have revenue sharing, how long do you think this will take or are we going to have to be in court for all of this in perpetuity? Well, they're trying to expedite it, according to Ross Dellinger, who's the man on the street with this stuff, and he kills it on this, Pete Thamel to a degree too, I mean those guys are just piped in, but I was reading summer of 2025, they're hoping to have something up and running potentially, some framework or maybe more than a framework, maybe something they can put in practice, I don't know man, they need to make this happen sooner than later, because the current system is just causing way too much, way too many issues, now this is the craziest of anything that's happened on the Ohio landscape, but again, it's just been a massive headache, a nonstop negotiation, you're losing guys, like Trevor ETN, I don't know if the Gators ever thought he was going anywhere, that was a big blow, I don't know that Billy was all too upset about the transfers, but Trevor ETN was one he was upset about, I'm sure of that and I know for a fact, I don't know that that was even a money thing though, which is kind of the irony of it, I don't think he was chasing a bag necessarily, he wanted the ball and he wanted winning, but players just have such freedom of movement, the money has gotten out of control, it's all these players ask about, it's a first, second and third question, they're all driving luxury automobiles, DJ Lagway, the freshman quarterback, five star kid, number one quarterback recruit in the country, he drives a Bentley SUV, he's 18 years old in Gainesville, Florida, it seems a little distorted to me. Oh my God, well Edgar, final question for you, as it relates to the Gators, this situation and its potential fallout, have we hit the worst of it, do you believe, or is this going to keep on rolling down the mountain, picking things up? What, the Rashada deal? As an overall, Rashada as it relates to the university, as it relates to Billy?

I tell you man, it's again, I think I said this already, but it's just ramped the headwinds up a few more knots for this guy, and he has, he's facing tremendous challenges with his schedule, with the fact he's trying to dig out of two consecutive losing seasons, with not tremendous buy-in from a large segment of the fan base, everything's going to be scrutinized to the nth degree, he's brought in four new coaches, 30 new players, now he does grand merch back, Eugene Wilson's terrific, I think the defense will be improved, but it was horrible, last year 38.2 a game, during the five game losing streak, the footballs looked bad at times, inept at others, there's just a lot Billy Napier has to prove this year, and this is something else he's going to have to deal with, yet another headache and distraction for a guy who already has enough of him. Yeah, not necessarily one, well Edgar, thank you so much for your insight, where can people follow you and your work with the Orlando Sentinel? Well on Twitter, OSGATORS.COM, but give me a follow, check out the story, and appreciate you having me, let's do it again sometime. Most definitely, hopefully with some good news right?

Next time, good news? Hey look, I've covered six coaches here at Florida, I don't want to cover a seventh, this kind of stuff is no fun for us, Gator's got a lot of great things going this spring in sports with various programs, and to be writing about a lawsuit from a kid who's on his third school is not what I wanted to do today. You said the freshman QB is driving a Bentley truck? Bentley SUV apparently, I didn't see it, someone told me you passed him in traffic the other day. Oh my God, what were his stats last year, do you remember? Off the top?

Nothing? Well player of the year nationally, and he said he won touchdowns, I mean he's the number one recruit in the nation at quarterback, he looks the part, he's got a live arm, the guy can run, but he won't even play much this year because of Graham Mertz. He'll be like a Tim Tebow to Chris Leake, ideally in 2006 when they won the national title, not predicting that, but I'm saying you would have him with a minor role to maybe help him win a couple of ballgames, which is really what Tim did that year. It isn't like Tim carried that team, he won him a couple of ballgames, Tennessee and LSU, or had huge contributions, and that was really it. The legend began in 2007 as a sophomore. Yeah, maybe we get a little 2007-2008 magic, we'll see, maybe this kid is delivering, consider the Bentley SUV in advance.

Yeah, he might, hey look, if he earns it the Gator will give him another one, trust me. Yeah, no doubt about that. Edgar, thank you so much, drive safe and we'll talk to you down the line, okay?

Yeah, good to meet you man. The wait is over. That's right, season five of the Kardashians is here. Just when you thought life couldn't get any faster, they're punching it into overdrive. Chris, Kourtney, Kim, Khloé, Kendall and Kylie are back and continue to defy expectations in all their endeavors. So, get ready to go behind the glitz and glamour of the most iconic family on television.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-21 21:10:46 / 2024-05-21 21:17:49 / 7

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