Federal judge tweaks education-related NCAA compensation limits for student athletes

In a ruling that could affect college basketball and football players, a federal judge in Oakland, Calif., ruled Friday that the NCAA is not allowed to "limit compensation or benefits related to education."

U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken did not rule in favor of the plaintiffs' request for unlimited benefits, however. Her ruling mentioned increased scholarships for athletes to pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees.

The judge also issued a 90-day stay on her ruling with appeals expected.

USA Today quoted the ruling as stating the NCAA may limit "academic or graduation awards of incentives, provided in cash or cash-equivalent" but that limit cannot be "less than the maximum amount of compensation that an individual could receive in an academic school year in participation, championship, or other special achievement awards (combined)."

Those awards could be worth thousands of dollars, according to USA Today.

Jeffrey Kessler, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, told the New York Times, "It's just going be a big step forward, and not the full bringing down of the edifice. ...

"(The ruling) will create a whole litany of benefits for the athletes. And as I say, that's terrific. We had hoped we could get an even greater opening of the market. But as I said, one step at a time."

Another attorney for plaintiffs, Steve Berman, told USA Today, "Schools will now have to compete -- and we think they will compete -- in offering student-athletes educational benefits, including grad school and other things like that. I think that's going to be great for the student-athletes."