Skip to main content

Florida Gators' NIL collective fires back at lawyer Caspino for alleged NCAA, state violations

The Gator Collective alleges activities could violate NCAA, state laws in the recruitment of consensus four-star QB and Michael Caspino client Jaden Rashada

The University of Florida’s official Name, Image & Likeness partner, Gator Collective, has fired back at California-based attorney Michael Caspino and his comments after this weekend’s commitment of consensus four-star quarterback Jaden Rashada to Mario Cristobal’s Miami Hurricanes’ program.

Telling On3 that Rashada’s multi-million dollar deal with the Hurricanes was less money than what Caspino alleged Florida’s “most dysfunctional collective in all of college football” had offered for the services of the 6-foot-4, 185-pounder from Pittsburg, California, Caspino raged against Gator Collective.

“Florida is the most dysfunctional collective in all of college football,” said Caspino, the architect behind the alleged $8 million deal that sources told FootballScoop Knoxville-based Spyre Sports had proffered another Caspino client, five-star quarterback Nico Iamaleava, a Tennessee Vols’ commitment. “I plan on steering my clients away from them.

“From my standpoint, I never ever want to deal with them again. If it weren’t for the collective that’s completely dysfunctional at Florida, (Rashada) probably would have been there.”

Not so fast, said Gator Collective – which is billed as an “official partner of the Florida Gators” and “official partner of the Gator Guard,” the Florida NIL collective that launched earlier this spring and claimed more than $5 million in seed money at its onset.

“The recent comments by California lawyer Michael Caspino have been brought to our attention,” Gator Collective said in its statement posted to Twitter. “Gator Collective has never had any communications with Mr. Caspino about Jaden Rashada or any recruits.

“Rather, Gator Collective has refused to engage in any dialogue with Mr. Caspino on numerous occasions as Gator Collective does not approve of his tactics and has no interest in engaging in activities which violate Florida law and NCAA Interim Policy and may put athletes’ eligibility at risk.”

Darren Heitner, a sports and intellectual property lawyer who is involved in Florida’s NIL collectives, nonetheless called out Caspino on Twitter Sunday for “admitting to an NCAA violation. If (Rashada) took an #NIL deal, lesser or not, by picking the Hurricanes, then that’s a violation no matter what his contract states" after Caspino was quoted as saying "Rashada left millions on the table. Millions. He did not pick the highest offer."

While the NCAA has struggled to legislate the nebulous NIL marketplace, it has in recent months vowed a crackdown on the alleged inducement-laden or de facto “pay-for-play” deals.

As FootballScoop reported in May:

Also, as noted, the NCAA’s Board of Governors “have told the investigative group at the NCAA, we want you to investigate these deals to see if they are pay-for-play or inducements. Which, honestly, we all know they are. What happens with that? We don’t know. The Board of Governors said they’d like to make it retroactive if it happens. It’s going to be a mess, if it happens.”