Florida Gators football under NCAA investigation

Florida Gators football under NCAA investigation

The Florida Gators football program is under NCAA investigation.

The investigation has been ongoing since at least June 9 when the NCAA sent UF President Ben Sasse a notice of investigation. This is an official document that NCAA enforcement personnel send to schools to inform them of the investigation before any of their employees or athletes are interviewed.

The specific nature of the investigation and potential violations were not specified in the four-page memo. But in October, the Tampa Bay Times requested any notices of investigation for possible name, image, likeness or recruiting violations. The request was initially denied but was implemented on Friday.

“We have been and will continue to cooperate with the NCAA,” Gators spokesman Steve MacLean said. “We hold ourselves to high standards of excellence and integrity on and off the field. Because we follow NCAA policies on confidentiality, we are unable to provide additional comment.”

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

In February, Gators coach Billy Napier was asked if he expected to hear from the NCAA about Rashadah’s status. His answer was: “We don’t.”

In December 2020, the Gators were sanctioned by the NCAA in a separate case. They were given a one-year probation for recruiting violations under then-coach Dan Mullen. The Level II violation involved Mullen and an assistant meeting with a recruit who had not finished his freshman year of high school. The Level 3 infraction centered on impermissible contact between coaches and recruits who were on their way to a tournament in Tampa.

Last week, Florida State was penalized after offensive coordinator Alex Atkins led a transfer prospect into a meeting with a booster who led the team’s name, image and likeness. That booster offered the prospect $15,000 as a recruiting incentive, according to a decision negotiated between the NCAA and the Seminoles.

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