CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A former West Virginia Mountaineer has become the center of the long held debate over the idea of compensating college football players above the cost of books, room and board and tuition.
Virginia native Shawne Alston filed the class-action suit on behalf of all college football players. Alston claims schools are benefiting handsomely from their athletic programs, especially football. The suit believes the key element in that product, the players, is being short changed. Alston’s suit argues a scholarship doesn’t begin to cover the cost difference between grant and aid compensation and the real cost of going to a particular school.
“That means miscellaneous expenses, such as transportation,” said reporter Jon Solomon who’s covered the story for AL.com. “It’s just other types of expenses that are associated with going to school.”
Alston’s suit isn’t the first, but it is the most recent. It’s also one that may have a stronger argument than any which have come before since coaches are paid millions and schools and television networks are becoming enriched by the popularity of college football.
“This debate has been going on for decades about whether to pay players or whether they deserve more,” said Solomon. “What’s really resonated and changed in recent years is the amount of money with more and more for coaches, commissioners, and more and more coming from these TV contracts. I think conference realignment has also really opened some eyes.”
The schools and the NCAA are yet to formally responded to Alston’s suit. Solomon said there is precedent which gives merit to the suit’s claim.
“We’ve seen tons of statements from the SEC, ACC, Big XII, Big 10, Pac12 and the conference with money have all come out in favor of some kind of a stipend,” said Solomon.
Solomon added those he’s spoken to those with experience in the field who indicated it could take years to change the system and the legal fight will be expensive. The question, according to Solomon, appeared to be whether lawyers involved are willing to go the distance on the matter.