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Supreme Court affirms NCAA eligibility rules


WASHINGTON -- Rules that end the college playing careers of athletes who enter a pro draft withstood a legal challenge in the U.S. Supreme Court yesterday as the justices turned aside an appeal by former Notre Dame running back Braxton Banks.

Under NCAA rules, a college player's eligibility in a sport comes to an automatic end if that player signs up for a draft by pro teams. Eligibility also stops if a player gets an agent.

Banks signed up for the NFL draft and retained a lawyer to act as his agent in 1990, when he had another year of eligibility remaining.

He was at Notre Dame on a football scholarship, but wanted to turn pro rather than go to graduate school and complete a final season with the Irish. He was one of 38 players who wanted to turn pro that year while they still had college eligibility.

But when Braxton got no offers from any team, he decided to return to Notre Dame and play football in the 1990 season. As a full scholarship student athlete, he was eligible for another $16,000 that year if he had been allowed to suit up.

The NCAA, however, ordered him to forfeit his last season of playing opportunity because he had broken both the no-draft and no-agent rules.

Banks then turned to the federal courts, filing an antitrust lawsuit contending that the two NCAA rules amounted to a boycott by NCAA member colleges aimed at players like himself.

A federal judge and the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected his lawsuit.

The Supreme Court refused to hear his case -- thus making the Circuit Court decision final.

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