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Court Rules Against Paying College Athletes

The NCAA notched a victory on Wednesday when a federal appeals court ruled against requiring colleges to compensate athletes in deferred cash payments, according to the Associated Press.

The decision is the latest to come from the lawsuit filed by former college football and men's basketball players who claim that others profited from their likeness without paying them. The group was led by former UCLA basketball star, Ed O'Bannon, and a trial court judge sided with them last August.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the lower court's decision that profiting from college athletes' names, images and likenesses used in video games and TV broadcasts violated antitrust laws, but still it vacated a plan that would pay athletes up to $5,000 per year in deferred payments.

"The difference between offering student-athletes education-related compensation and offering them cash sums untethered to educational expenses is not minor; it is a quantum leap," Judge Jay Bybee wrote. "Once that line is crossed, we see no basis for returning to a rule of amateurism and no defined stopping point."

NPR's Tom Goldman reports:

"Last year a federal judge ruled that NCAA limits on what major college football and men's basketball players can earn violated antitrust rules. The judge says schools can offer players scholarships that cover the full cost of attendance and up to $5,000 in deferred compensation. Now the appeals court has upheld the cost of attendance provision, but said no to the payments."

The NCAA released a statement from president Mark Emmert, who agreed with the ruling.

"We have not completely reviewed the court's 78-page decision, but we agree with the court that the injunction 'allowing students to be paid cash compensation of up to $5,000 per year was erroneous.'"

Emmert added that member schools are allowed to provide up to the full cost of attendance for college athletes.