It is no secret that many former college athletes have a major bone to pick with the NCAA over the financial setup of the association. The latest blow to the old order of things has come in the form of yet another lawsuit from a former player.
Shawne Alston was a running back for the West Virginia University Mountaineers from 2009 and 2012 and he is now the plaintiff in the lawsuit which accuses the NCAA of violating federal antitrust laws. The suit claims that those laws are violated because the NCAA sets athletic scholarship values at a level below that needed to attend school.
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Alston is no stranger to taking on the powers that be as he also sued EA over “blatant and unlawful” use of his image in their popular NCAA Football franchise. If that sounds familiar it’s because other former players have done the same, including the famous Ed O’Bannon case in which the former UCLA basketball star is seeking compensation for his inclusion in an EA title, and the recent movement to unionize by the Northwestern University football team.
While the judge of that suit has recently ordered settlement talks to take place before the trial date in June, the Alston case is a shiny new black eye on the integrity of the NCAA, something which even college sports celebrities like basketball commentator Jay Bilas have taken shots at.
The core of Alston’s suit is the scholarship issue, something that the wording of the document spells out very clearly:
“How is it that players cannot even make ends meet while the schools make tens of millions? The NCAA and the Power Conferences have agreed that Football Bowl Subdivision football players may only receive payments that the NCAA approves and the Power Conference Schools agree to. The Primary Form of payment is an athletic scholarship, formally known as a ‘grant-in-aid.’ The NCAA and Power Conferences have agreed to unlawfully cap the value of a grant-in-aid at an amount substantially below what a Football Bowl Subdivision football player would receive for his services in a competitive market, and at an amount below what it costs to attend school. This agreement violates the Sherman act.”
Attorney Steve Berman, who is representing Alston in the case, put the matter even more bluntly:
“FBS football players should no longer be treated as second class citizens. They generate massive amounts of money for the schools and the NCAA, and these players should not have to struggle to make ends meet while they are surrounded by multi-millionaire coaches.”
Some claim that love of the game, university, and the chance to earn an education should be more than enough for these young athletes, but having lived the experience themselves they clearly have a different opinion on the matter. Whether or not the Alston suit or any other will change the status quo of college sports is yet to be seen, but it looks doubtful that such challenges will stop coming at the NCAA.
The entire text of the Alston suit is available for public view, so have a look for yourself.[Image via WestViginiaU]