Supreme Court stays out of fight over NCAA tournament rules

Updated: August 27, 2003, 11:40 AM ET

WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court refused to get involved Wednesday in a dispute over eligibility rules for preseason college basketball tournaments.

Justice John Paul Stevens did not comment in rejecting an emergency request from several sports promoters challenging the NCAA rule that prohibits Division I teams from playing in more than two exempt tournaments in a four-year period. Stevens is the justice responsible for appeals from Ohio, where the NCAA won the latest round in lower federal courts.

A federal judge had ruled last month that the NCAA's restrictions violated federal antitrust laws, but the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals later put that ruling on hold at the NCAA's request. The appeals court's action means the tournaments must be organized under the NCAA's "two in four rule" for now.

The 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 suit was brought by promoters and organizers of 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.

The promoters said that if 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.

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