Jesus, what a shit show.
In the ever-evolving story of University of Miami quarterback commit Jaden Rashada, everyone seems to have their own narrative. None are lining up, however.
That’s the consensus nearly 24 hours after On3 reported Rashada left millions in potential NIL earnings on the table with his commitment to the Hurricanes, according to his lawyer Michael Caspino. The On3 Consensus four-star quarterback chose Miami over Florida and Texas A&M.
Since the news broke, multiple parties involved in the story have issued statements or walked back their comments. Jackson Zager, Rashada’s old teammate at IMG Academy, told On3 on Monday the Rashada family was “stressed out and caught off guard” by Caspino’s comments Sunday night.
Zager was serving as the family’s NIL representation in regard to endorsements. As a high school athlete in the state of California, Rashada is allowed to sign partnership agreements. Zager told On3 he flew to Miami last week to broker a deal between LifeWallet and the quarterback, but was told to “sit tight.”
At that point, he and his partner Tommy Thomsen received a cease and desist text message from Caspino regarding Rashada’s NIL recruitment. Zager told On3 that after Sunday, he and Thomsen are unsure of their standing with the family moving forward. The duo claims they represented Rashada in endorsement talks with multiple companies.
“The family told me to tell them to stop doing that,” Caspino said to On3 on Monday afternoon. “I stand by the statement he did not take the highest offer. Absolutely.”
If you caught that “old teammate at IMG Academy” and asked yourself “WTF?”, well, you’re not alone.
Zager is 19 years old and just finished his freshman year at SMU. The president and founder of JTM Sports, he holds an athlete agent license in multiple states. His partner and chief business operator at JTM, Thomsen is a 22-year-old commercial real estate agent.
If you can’t beat ’em, represent ’em.
But let’s get back to noted NIL lawyer Caspino, who’s beating a hasty retreat from his original brag story as fast as he can.
Caspino continues to claim The Gator Collective offered Rashada “a lot of money,” but a Gator Collective representative and Florida football staffer indicated to On3 the Gators never offered him a dollar. The same member of the collective told On3 that the lawyer has attempted to reach them through “multiple pathways” in the past few months. Other collectives have shared similar stories.
A Florida football staffer also indicated that Caspino reached out on multiple occasions. The lawyer refutes the story, claiming he was called by the assistant.
The staffer went on to say Caspino takes roughly 13% from each deal he strikes. Caspino reaffirmed his previous statement that he doesn’t take any money from deals, only a one to three-percent fee collectives pay for his legal work.
When asked specifically about the Miami deal, Caspino shot down any possibility of inducement or Rashada having a contract in hand before his commitment. He is also not a member of the Florida bar association.
“It’s a deal in progress, it’s a deal in process. That’s all I can say,” Caspino said. “We don’t have a deal with Miami right now. We don’t. There’s things in process. We don’t have a deal right now.”
Zager indicated to On3 that Caspino retains a “runner,” which is another term for a street agent. This is an agent who spots a talented prospect, develops a relationship with him and his family and secures him an NIL deal. Caspino acknowledged street agents are part of the NIL process in a previous interview with On3.
“I don’t even know what that is, people call me all day long,” Caspino said Monday. “I don’t do advertisements. I’ve gotten calls all day today. I’ve never heard the term ‘runner’ before.”
Uh hunh. I’m sure a guy whose resume notes that he’s tried cases involving “wrongful death… catastrophic injury, traumatic brain injury, … etc.” would have no idea what a runner is.
Meanwhile, shots continue to be fired.
Darren Heitner and Michael Caspino have been exchanging words over email and Twitter for the better part of the last month.
The two lawyers, one based in Florida and the other in California, respectively, have developed a feud that has been the talk in many NIL circles. It was even a talking point for some at the NIL Summit. Heitner has been on the forefront of the NIL landscape, helping craft contracts and guiding collectives behind the scenes. He also helped craft the Sunshine State’s NIL legislation.
He’s also a Florida alumnus and has provided counsel to the Gator Collective.
Caspino’s comments directed towards the Gators on Sunday night was just the kicker to their ongoing argument and a clear shot at the Florida-based lawyer. Heitner told On3 on Monday night the admission from Caspino that Rashada left “millions on the table” is all the NCAA needs to investigate the lawyer.
The NCAA’s guidance on NIL clearly states boosters and donors cannot be in contact with prospective student-athletes. The organization has made it known NIL cannot be used to induce recruits. Enforcement director Jeff Duncan reminded members in a letter in June that the NCAA is “working tirelessly to develop information and investigate potential violations.”
The NCAA released updated NIL guidance in early May, stating collectives – groups of boosters and businesses – are not to be involved in the recruiting process or in the transfer portal. Collectives have pooled together funds to help bankroll teams.
“He tied the knot. He put together the present and put it on the NCAA’s doorstep,” Heitner said.
As I like to say, we’re gonna need a bigger bag of popcorn for this.
As for Mr. Reshada, if you didn’t know the old saying about lying down with dogs, start scratching now.