Florida Gators football under NCAA investigation

The Gators say “they have been and will continue to cooperate with the NCAA.”
The Florida Gators football program is under an NCAA investigation.
The Florida Gators football program is under an NCAA investigation. [ Times ]
Published Jan. 19|Updated Jan. 26

The Florida Gators’ football program is under NCAA investigation.

The investigation has been underway since at least June 9 when the NCAA sent UF President Ben Sasse a notice of inquiry. That’s a formal document the NCAA’s enforcement staff sends to schools to inform them of the investigation before interviewing any of their employees or athletes.

The specific nature of the investigation and potential violations are not specified in the four-page note. But in October, the Tampa Bay Times requested any notices of inquiry regarding potential violations related to name, image and likeness or recruiting. The request was initially denied but fulfilled Friday.

“We have been and will continue to cooperate with the NCAA,” Gators spokesperson Steve McClain said. “We hold ourselves to high standards of excellence and integrity on and off the field. Because we follow NCAA policies about maintaining confidentiality, we are unable to offer additional comments.”

The investigation comes as NCAA enforcement tries to keep up with the quickly evolving spaces of recruiting and name, image and likeness. The Gators were at the center of that space last year with an eight-figure NIL dispute involving blue-chip quarterback recruit Jaden Rashada and the third-party Gator Collective. Rashada initially signed with Florida but ended up at Arizona State, where he started two games as a true freshman.

In February, Gators head coach Billy Napier was asked whether he expected to hear from the NCAA about the Rashada situation. His response: “We don’t.”

In December 2020, the Gators were sanctioned by the NCAA in a separate case. They received a one-year probation for recruiting violations under then-coach Dan Mullen. A Level II infraction involved Mullen and an assistant meeting with a recruit who hadn’t finished his junior year of high school. A Level III infraction centered on impermissible contact between coaches and recruits who were on their way to a tournament in Tampa.

Last week, Florida State was sanctioned after offensive coordinator Alex Atkins drove a transfer prospect to a meeting with a booster who led a name, image and likeness collective. That booster offered the prospect $15,000 as a recruiting inducement, according to the negotiated resolution between the NCAA and the Seminoles.

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