SEC’s Greg Sankey weighs in on Georgia player suing Florida coach

FILE -Arizona State quarterback Jaden Rashada warms up prior to an NCAA college football game against Oklahoma State Saturday, Sept. 9, 2023, in Tempe, Ariz. Former Florida recruit and current Georgia quarterback Jaden Rashada is suing Gators coach Billy Napier and the program’s top booster over a failed name, image and likeness deal worth nearly $14 million. The lawsuit filed Tuesday, May 21, 2024 in U.S. District Court in Pensacola, Fla. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

FILE -Arizona State quarterback Jaden Rashada warms up prior to an NCAA college football game against Oklahoma State Saturday, Sept. 9, 2023, in Tempe, Ariz. Former Florida recruit and current Georgia quarterback Jaden Rashada is suing Gators coach Billy Napier and the program’s top booster over a failed name, image and likeness deal worth nearly $14 million. The lawsuit filed Tuesday, May 21, 2024 in U.S. District Court in Pensacola, Fla. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

MIRAMAR BEACH, Fla. -- Greg Sankey was asked Monday what he thought about a quarterback currently playing for Georgia suing the Florida head coach and others associated with the Gators’ program for a multimillion-dollar NIL deal gone bad during the 2023 recruiting cycle.

“I’m not a fan of lawsuits,” the SEC Commissioner said Monday night here at the Hilton Sandestin Beach Resort. “That’s what I think.”

Coming on the eve of the conference’s spring meetings, It was logical question considering the increasingly litigious state of college athletics. The SEC and the other four “power conferences” voted last week to join the NCAA in settling three multibillion-dollar lawsuits. As a result, schools directly paying athletes for their services is about to become a reality.

Last week, an attorney representing Georgia quarterback Jaden Rashada filed a $10 million federal lawsuit against Florida coach Billy Napier, a prominent Gators donor and one of the school’s now-defunct collectives for reneging on a $13.85 million NIL deal to sign with Florida in December 2022. In the end, Rashada was released from his letter-of-intent with UF and enrolled at Arizona State, where he started three games as a freshman last season. Rashada recently transferred to UGA.

“It’s not the only lawsuit involving a coach over the last year; it won’t be the last,” Sankey said Monday. “We have a legal system and people have rights to pursue what they view as grievances and the legal system sorts that out.”

Northwestern University is currently embroiled in a lawsuit in which three former players are suing former coach Pat Fitzgerald for alleged hazing practices within the football program.

The lawsuit that is dominating Sankey’s thoughts at the moment is House vs. NCAA. To settle the case, the five power conferences (ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC) agreed to pay $2.8 billion in damages to former and current college athletes over the next 10 years. The settlement eliminates rules from NCAA and conference bylaws that previously prohibited direct payments from schools to athletes.

Sankey said that will shift about 22% of a Power Five program’s annual revenues directly to athlete compensation.

“And that’s not the end,” Sankey said. “There are scholarships, there’s Alston Grants, there’s ‘cost of attendance,’ there’s concierge medical care, concierge mental wellness care, all kinds of gear,” Sankey said. “All those are costs borne by the institution. So, that’s part of this economic flow, direct economic benefit. But there’s a lot more beyond that 22% that’s being provided to young people. ...

“There’s no better time to be a college athlete than right now.”

That amount is estimated at more than $20 million annually per school for future revenue-sharing, according to some published reports. Sankey wouldn’t confirm that number but acknowledged that cost-cutting measures such as roster limits may be warranted.

“When you have a shift of revenue up to 22%, things won’t remain the same,” he said. “That predicts that people are going to have to make hard decisions. Now that may be any number of a wide range of issues that I haven’t even been begun to consider, some of which I can imagine and some of which I’m sure we’ll learn about this week and in the weeks to follow.”