Shawne Alston

New lawsuit accuses NCAA of capping value of athletic scholarship

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How much value is placed on an athletic scholarship? Not enough, according to former West Virginia running back Shawne Alston. Alston is heading up a class-action lawsuit against the NCAA accusing the organization of capping the value of an athletic scholarship below the actual cost of attendance, which Alston believes is a violation of antitrust laws.

According to Jon Solomon of Al.com, the lawsuit filed in a San Francisco federal court targets the NCAA and each of the five power conferences. According to the report, the lawsuit seeks to prevent the NCAA and power conferences from maintaining the current limit on financial aid as currently defined. In addition, Alston seeks damages to compensate for the difference from the aid provided compared to the actual cost of attendance. According to the details of the lawsuit, Alston claims he had to take out a $5,500 loan to help cover the difference between his financial aid and the cost of attending West Virginia.

This is just another lawsuit for the NCAA to battle, as if they did not have enough on their plates already. The lawsuit is being organized by Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, which has previously engaged with the NCAA in cases related to concussions and is involved in other cases such as the Ed O’Bannon case. These are familiar foes for sure.

Alston and his legal team hope to include any football player who played in those conferences dating back to February 2010.

Ex-Houston RB Charles Sims says he will play for WVU

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Thanks largely to some severe recruiting restrictions, former Houston running back Charles Sims was reportedly looking to transfer to either Cal or West Virginia to finish out his college career. And it looks as though the Mountaineers have won the Sims Sweepstakes.

Sims told Mark Berman of Fox 26 Sports that he will transfer to WVU as a grad student and has been in Morgantown since Thursday on an official visit. He will be eligible to play immediately.

“I’m familiar with the offense and I just felt comfortable at West Virginia,” Sims said. “It feels real good to make this decision. It’s the next step in my life.”

Officially, WVU has yet to comment on the addition.

Sims announced in May that he planned on transferring from the Cougars — that coming just months after saying he would return to UH for his senior season. No reason was given for the change of heart, but UH did impose a series of restrictions on Sims that would prevent him from being released to programs in the American Athletic Conference and the state of Texas, as well as any team on Houston’s 2013 schedule. The supplemental draft was also reportedly an option for Sims.

The Mountaineers would be getting a productive back in Sims, who rushed for 851 yards and 11 touchdowns last season in nine games. Sims is also a highly regarded receiver, finishing fifth on the team in receiving with 37 catches for 373 yards and three touchdowns.

WVU struggled running the ball consistently last year, as evident by the fact that receiver Tavon Austin started getting significant carries in November against Oklahoma and finished the year second on the team in rushing yards; injuries to Shawne Alston and Dustin Garrison, who was still coming back from an ACL tear in early 2012, played a role as well. In any case, Sims is an instant upgrade to that unit.

With Sims reportedly on board, the Mountaineers suddenly have good running back and quarterback options coming from recent transfers, as former Florida State QB Clint Trickett joined WVU in early May. The concern for the Mountaineers in 2013 has been primarily focused on the offense and replacing Austin, Geno Smith and Stedman Bailey. 

Alston, Austin snap WVU’s losing streak; Mountaineers going bowling

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It took a little longer — okay, a lot longer — than West Virginia was hoping, but the Mountaineers are in fact going to a bowl game this season. It wasn’t pretty, though.

WVU was one of the hot teams in college football for the month of September. The Mountaineers were ranked fifth in the country and Geno Smith was the runaway leader in the Heisman discussion. Then the Mountaineers got blown out by Texas Tech, starting a five-game losing streak.

Part of the problem for West Virginia during that time was the defense. Giving up 42 points per game heading into Friday’s match against Iowa State was costing WVU when the offense wasn’t quite firing on all cylinders. That problem was thanks in part to the absence of running back Shawne Alston, who has been hampered with a thigh bruise. But against the Cyclones today, Alston rumbled for 130 yards and a touchdown while still visibly limited with his injury.

Mountaineers receiver Tavon Austin, who rushed for over 300 yards in last week’s loss to Oklahoma, had 74 yards on the ground. Austin’s big play came on a 75-yard “pass” — a forward toss from Smith that was lethal against Clemson in last January’s Orange Bowl — to put the Mountaineers up 31-24. That would be the final score of the game.

(Austin also had a punt return for a touchdown. However, that was called back because of a hold, proving that while WVU is still struggling to stop opposing offenses, it has no problem stopping its most electric playmaker.) 

WVU is now 6-5 and finishes the season at home against Kansas. A win against the Jayhawks would likely put WVU in the Holliday Bowl against a Pac-12 opponent (Rich Rodriguez‘s Arizona Wildcats perhaps?).

WVU will be without RB against Texas

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Looks like Texas won’t be the only team in Austin on Saturday without a running back. West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said on his Statewide Sportsline show Thursday evening that senior Shawne Alston would not be traveling to Texas for this Saturday’s game.

We’re going to move on without him this week,” Holgorsen said. “If he’s out there practicing next week, we’ll play him in the game. But he tried to go here for the last couple of days and just wasn’t able. He’s going to continue to get that thigh worked on and we’ll hopefully get him back next week.”

Like Texas, West Virginia uses multiple running backs in its offense. Alston started off the year hot against Marshall, rushing for 123 yards and two touchdowns. However, he suffered a thigh bruise the following week against James Madison and has been limited, if not absent altogether, ever since.

Alston’s absence was evident against Maryland as the Mountaineers were only able to rush for 25 yards. WVU ran for 151 yards last week against Baylor, led primarily by sophomore Andrew Buie. Dustin Garrison, the team’s leading rusher from a year ago, is still making his way back from an ACL injury he suffered right before the Orange Bowl.