Florida Football: Billy Napier finds support amid Rashada lawsuit

Florida football coach Billy Napier is drawing support.
Doug Engle/Gainesville Sun / USA TODAY

Billy Napier is facing a lawsuit from former recruit Jaden Rashada, but he's not standing alone. At this week's SEC spring meetings in Destin, Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin voiced his support for Napier amidst the pending legal action.

"I've got a tremendous amount of trust for Billy - not only in who he is as a person, but how he conducts himself and how he treats other people," Stricklin stated when asked about the Rashada lawsuit.

The suit, filed by the Georgia quarterback, alleges fraud against Napier, former Florida staffer Marcus Castro-Walker, and booster Hugh Hatchcock over a botched $13.8 million NIL deal that factored into Rashada's recruitment and signing with the Gators.

While the University of Florida itself was not named in the lawsuit, the school is providing legal counsel for Napier as the case proceeds. An NCAA investigation into Rashada's recruitment was previously underway but has since been put on hold.

Napier, hired in December 2021 to replace Dan Mullen, has a 11-14 record through his first two seasons in Gainesville. He maintained on Tuesday that he was "comfortable with his actions" regarding Rashada's recruitment.

Offering a vote of confidence was Bryan Harsin, the former Auburn coach fired midway through last season. In a social media post, Harsin defended Napier's character and coaching acumen.

As the legal situation plays out, Napier can take comfort in knowing that he has support from his athletic director and coaching peers in navigating these uncharted waters in Gainesville.