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Federal Court Places A Stay On Order Compelling NCAA To Pay Athletes

One day before a district court ruling was to go into effect that would force the NCAA to allow colleges to pay student-athletes $5,000 per year, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has placed a stay on that order.

The ruling comes nearly a year after a district court judge ruled that the "NCAA violated antitrust laws when it said college athletes couldn't be compensated for the use of their names and likenesses," as we reported last August. The NCAA appealed the decision.

The NCAA requested the stay earlier this month, saying it would suffer irreparable harm if the district order were allowed to take effect on Aug. 1 — the same day that colleges and universities begin sending offer letters to athletes for the following school year.

Friday's ruling is the latest in a legal dispute between college athletes and the National Collegiate Athletic Association that began in earnest in 2009, when a group of athletes led by former UCLA basketball player Ed O'Bannon filed suit.

The three-judge panel wrote:

"Without expressing a view as to either party's likelihood of success on the merits, the court grants a stay of the district court's injunction in this case, dated August 8, 2014, to preserve the status quo until this court's mandate has issued."

In its motion for a stay in the case, the NCAA said that it is in the public's interest to preserve rules "that have long protected student-athletes from commercial pressures, and to ensure that the nation's colleges and universities need not unnecessarily divert their resources and attention away from their educational mission."

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
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