Student studying in Squires

A student studies in Squires Student Center, Feb. 4 2019.

On Thursday, April 14, Virginia Tech announced that starting in the fall of 2022, it will reward its student-athletes financially for academic success. Following NCAA v. Alston, this initiative makes Virginia Tech one of 22 FBS-level schools that will compensate student-athletes up to $5,980 in academic bonuses.

“We look at it as a permissible scholarship addition,” said Virginia Tech Athletics Director Whit Babcock. “We will do it the same for all sports. We certainly want to tell our coaches and student-athletes first … If you’re on a 10% scholarship in another sport and we can lessen that bill. We feel like it can give us a competitive advantage.”

Babcock explained that the full details surrounding the exact measures of good academic standing are still being determined but also said that Virginia Tech is discussing equity in the distribution of scholarships. “If you set it (GPA) high, too high, does that disadvantage certain sports or maybe disadvantage kids who didn’t come up through as good of a high-school program?” Babcock said. “Does it make kids change majors to try to meet it?”

According to Babcock, different schools are implementing the initiative in various ways. Some ideas include either issuing payment a full year after completing the semester or even withholding payment until graduation. At the moment, Virginia Tech is planning to pay athletes a full year after meeting the academic standards for a given semester.

Following the Supreme Court ruling, the NCAA voted to allow student-athletes to make additional money off of their name, image and likeness in brand deals, and Virginia Tech plans to partner with various academic resources to educate students on these potential business ventures. Babcock said, “We are also partnering with the College of Business here on a one-credit class for athletes … on name, image and likeness.” Babcock also said that athletics is partnering with the Apex Center for Entrepreneurs for a one-credit class.

Kylan Montgomery, a freshman general engineering major and aspiring computer engineer on Virginia Tech’s wrestling team, said he was excited for the initiative to start taking effect. “We have to maintain our grades to be eligible, so having our hard work be rewarded is a pretty cool thing to have nowadays,” Montgomery said.

As for the future of Virginia Tech’s academic success, Montgomery has optimism that the initiative will help with athletes’ motivation in school. “I definitely think it’s going to drive people to try and do better in school instead of just getting through it … It helps us definitely drive towards that goal of being a really good student as well as being a really good athlete,” he said.

Virginia Tech still does not have specifics on the implementation of these financial rewards, but more details will become clear in the future. “We are currently finalizing our criteria for this program and plan to roll out the details to student-athletes, their families and our coaching staffs this summer,” Babcock said in an interview with HokieSports.

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Thanks for this article.


Virginia Tech intends to collaborate with many academic resources to inform students about these prospective commercial initiatives so that student-athletes may earn extra money off of their name, image, and likeness in brand partnerships. We're also working with the College of Business on a one-credit course for athletes, said Babcock.

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