The West Virginia University Department of Intercollegiate Athletics announced that it will provide scholarship student-athletes with the opportunity for additional financial assistance based on their academic achievement and progress toward graduation.

In a landmark 9-0 decision in NCAA vs. Alston, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that struck down NCAA caps on student-athlete academic benefits. With the legal victory in the Alston Case, student-athletes are now eligible to receive a yearly academic incentive award of $5,980.

Each institution can determine its level of financial participation and set its own academic achievement standards for the payment. Within the Big 12 Conference, the Board of Directors voted to allow its members to provide up to the full yearly amount ($5,980) of education-related benefits to student-athletes who are receiving athletically related aid in all sports. 

Starting with the 2021-22 academic year, West Virginia will invest $1.5 million yearly in the Mountaineer Academic Incentive Program. Payment will be made on an annual basis following one-year of academic residence, retention and if the scholarship student-athlete meets the following criteria:

  1. Student-athlete must be academically eligible
  2. Student-athlete cannot be in the transfer portal at the time of payment
  3. Payment is subject, not only to academic success, but to a review of the student-athlete’s record of conduct through WVU’s Office of Student Conduct

“Our student-athletes work extremely hard to succeed in the classroom and sometimes those efforts are overshadowed by what’s happening in competition,” West Virginia Director of Athletics Shane Lyons said. “Based on the Supreme Court ruling, the Mountaineer Academic Incentive Program now gives us the opportunity to enhance the student-athlete experience, which is paramount in our department.

“It’s an additional financial responsibility that we now have to budget accordingly, and hopefully we will be able to supplement the funding in the future through fundraising initiatives. The end result is that we are rewarding academic success each year, to the full amount permissible, and putting additional emphasis on obtaining a college degree, which not only is a win for our student-athletes, but also for our University.”

This past fall, West Virginia placed 341 Mountaineers on the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll with 84 student-athletes earning a 4.0 GPA.