Appeals court issues stay in NCAA lawsuit

Updated: August 20, 2003, 9:49 PM ET

INDIANAPOLIS -- An appeals court issued a stay in a request by the NCAA to delay a decision overturning an NCAA rule that prohibits Division I basketball teams from playing in more than two exempt tournaments in a four-year period.

The ruling Wednesday by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, out of Cincinnati, overturned a federal judge's decision in July that denied a request by the NCAA to delay a decision overturning the rule.

The NCAA was pleased with the decision.

"This decision provides stability until the Sixth Circuit ultimately rules on the appeal," said NCAA general counsel Elsa Cole.

The suit was brought by Cincinnati-based Worldwide Basketball, Sports Tours Inc., Dorna Sports Promotions and the Gazelle Group.

Those groups have organized or promoted such preseason tournaments as the Las Vegas Classic, the San Juan Shootout, the Coaches vs. Cancer event and the National Association of Basketball Coaches Classic.

They said that if high-profile teams such as Duke, Kansas and Arizona can play in only two such events in a four-year period, spots in tournaments must be filled by teams that attract less fan interest.

Other exempt events include the Great Alaska Shootout, Maui Invitational and Preseason NIT.

The "two in four rule" forced 11 of 28 exempt tournaments to be canceled last season because there wasn't an appropriate mix of teams.

Each Division I school is limited to 28 regular-season games. A team can appear in more games by playing in exempt tournaments.

Each tournament counts as one game against the NCAA limit, even though a team could play in several tournament games.

The appeal will be heard by the court on an expedited basis.

The suit was filed in December 2001.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index