The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

December 23, 2012

Alston talks about the life of a college athlete

MORGANTOWN — This past week, Kelly Folger, a West Virginia University student, headed home to New Jersey for the holidays and literally leaped for joy when upon her arrival she found awaiting her an envelope containing seven tickets to the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium on Dec. 29.

Printed on each ticket was the price — $90.

That’s $630.

She is in college, about to graduate, and works while she goes to school.

That she can give herself and her family a gift like this is a wonderful thing because there are any number of players on this same West Virginia football team that will face Syracuse who cannot afford the price of tickets to the game in which they are playing.

This brings us to one of the burning questions in college athletics, one magnified in recent years by the realignment of conferences based solely on finances, on the creation of a national championship game in football to go along with the long-popular NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament and its Final Four and the ever-escalating amount of money paid to head coaches.

That question is, put in its simplest terms, should college athletes be paid?

oooooo

Shawne Alston is senior running back at WVU, a player who might have been a star this season were it not for injury, a player who still may find his way into the NFL but who faces long odds against it, just as do most college football and basketball players.

An insightful, caring player, Alston tweeted this past week about the situation.

He did not back down from his belief that players should be paid when asked to expound upon it face-to-face.

“It would be a huge difference,” Alston began.” I don’t think people realize how many people come from low-income areas to play college football in different places.”

Far too many college athletes come from difficult economic situations, single-parent children out of a household that is scrambling just to get by.

The most recent example of this to be made public came in 2008, when Bill Koch of the Cincinnati Enquirer disclosed that receiver Mardy Gilyard spent time living in his car when he lost his scholarship at the school because of low grades.

While a unique case such as that is so extreme, it illustrates a problem that does exist.

“We have freshmen on this team that have to come and talk to people to get a couple of dollars to eat until the next check comes around,” Alston said. “I think that’s wrong.”

Alston admits that he was in the situation himself.

“I had times when I was hungry. You’ve just got to go to people you are close to. I had my Mom send a little bit of money. Sometimes me and Tavon (Austin), back then, we’d look after each other. Usually you have a teammate you can talk to and go out to eat together,” he said.

It is a humbling experience, especially occurring in the surroundings in which it occurs.

The trappings around these kids are the best. They practice and meet in a building devoted exclusively to their sport, be it basketball or football.

Each coach has his own office. The head coach makes about $3 million a year. The assistants half a million or so, some more, some less.

They make this money, yet don’t have to purchase their own cars or tickets to the football games, those being written into their contracts.

And the gap is widening, and Alston, along with other student-athletes know this, making it almost inevitable that some kind of challenge in court is going to be forthcoming without adjusting the system.

“College football definitely makes a lot of money,” Alston said. “They are out there making millions. Why can’t we eat what we want at nighttime? Why do we have to be out there eating noodles or having to borrow money from someone to eat?

“They could have taken care of it a long time ago,” Alston continued. “With all the things going on with agents or boosters paying people to play (which is against the NCAA rules), you can settle a lot of that.

“If you have a player whose parents can’t afford to give them any money and they are hungry and a really good player, an agent or someone is going to give them $100. The noodles bore for you after a while. You want steak. Everyone else is eating steak.

“They can figure out a million ways to make them some money, so I guess they can figure out a way for us, too. They figured out a way to put a playoff in and make them some money. I guess they can get us some, too.”

Text Only
WVU Sports
  • Arrest warrant out for WVU recruit

    West Virginia University’s newest men’s basketball recruit, Tarik Phillip, has an order out for his arrest in North Carolina, according to a story in The Dominion-Post, which said three Gaston County Magistrate office spokespersons confirmed.

    April 20, 2014

  • WVU baseball powers past Oklahoma, 9-5

    The WVU baseball team tied a season high with 18 hits to defeat Oklahoma, 9-5, on Saturday afternoon at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
    The win gives the Mountaineers their second Big 12 series win of the season and improves the overall record to 19-16 and 4-7 in conference play. Oklahoma drops to 25-16 overall and 5-7 in Big 12 play.

    April 20, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Under pressure, NCAA decides to change rules

    At first glance, it appears that they do not go hand-in-hand, a pair of rules changes the NCAA’s Legislative Council approved this week, sending them off for what seems to be smooth sailing toward becoming rules.

    April 18, 2014

  • Means, WVU baseball shut out Oklahoma

    Junior left-hander John Means of the WVU baseball team threw eight shutout innings and the Mountaineers had a five-run first inning en route to a 7-0 victory over Oklahoma on Thursday evening at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
    The Mountaineers (18-15, 3-6 Big 12) broke a six-game Big 12 losing streak after being swept by TCU and Oklahoma State in back-to-back weekends. WVU had 16 hits and did not make an error for the second-straight game.

    April 18, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Dr. Graber disagrees with Gee’s stance on Turnbull firing

    Dr. Stephen Graber, an associate professor at the West Virginia University School of Medicine, is among the latest WVU teachers to deplore Oliver Luck’s firing of veteran wrestling coach Craig Turnbull.
    He raised some significant questions about that issue last Monday in a meeting of the WVU Faculty Senate.

    April 18, 2014

  • Huggins signs junior college guard

    Coach Bob Huggins completed his 2014-15 West Virginia University recruiting class on Wednesday and deemed it a success after receiving a signed letter of intent from junior college guard Tarik Phillip.
    Phillip joins Jevon Carter of Maywood, Ill., and Daxter Miles of Baltimore’s Dunbar High and out of Notre Dame Prep in Massachusetts in the 2014-15 recruiting class.

    April 17, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU gymnast hopes to stick her final landing

    The reaction, one suspects, was the same as most people who see either a picture of West Virginia University gymnast Hope Sloanhoffer or meet her for the first time in person — a quick double take, maybe even stumbling over the first few words of an introduction.

    April 17, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Comparing pay of coaches and professors

    Stringing together some odds and ends which may be of interest to you:
    • A beautiful lady came up to my table last Sunday at brunch in the Village of Heritage Point’s main dining room with a message.

    April 17, 2014

  • Bussie looks forward to WNBA

    On Tuesday, the weather turned cold, the wind blew and amongst the raindrops that fell a few snowflakes fluttered quietly to Earth.
    It was as if it was a celebration of Asya Bussie being drafted on Monday night by the Minnesota Lynx, champions of the WNBA, with the third selection of the second round, the 15th overall pick of the draft.

    April 16, 2014

  • WVU’s Harlee named Big 12 Scholar-Athlete

    The Big 12 Conference announced its Scholar-Athlete of the Year recipients for the 2014 winter sport season, and West Virginia University senior Jess Harlee earns the honor for women’s basketball.
    Harlee was selected as the award winner based on a vote of each respective sport’s head coaching group, with coaches not permitted to vote for their own student-athletes.

    April 16, 2014

Featured Ads
WVU Sports Highlights
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos