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As part of a settlement to a federal antitrust suit, the NCAA agreed Tuesday to make available $10 million that will provide supplemental money above the standard athletic grant-in-aid to athletes who have competed in Division I-A football and in 16 Division I men's basketball conferences between Feb. 17, 2002, and the present. The agreement, subject to approval by a U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, is in response to a class-action suit filed in February 2006 on behalf of former football players Jason White of Stanford and Brian Polak of UCLA, former San Francisco basketball player Jovan Harris and Chris Craig, a former Texas-El Paso basketball player.

The suit argued that restricting a scholarship to the cost of tuition, books, housing and meals was an unlawful restraint of trade because of the billions of dollars the NCAA earned through broadcast and licensing deals. NCAA general counsel Elsa Cole said she expects the court to approve the agreement.

The settlement says the $10 million will be made available over a period of three years to qualifying student-athletes — which the NCAA says could number 12,000 — to reimburse them for "bona fide educational expenses hereafter incurred, such as tuition, fees, books, supplies and equipment."

An NCAA study estimated athletes on full scholarships averaged $2,500 a year in out-of-pocket expenses. The settlement allows athletes to apply for as much as $2,500 a year for up to three years.

Cole said the $10 million will come from the NCAA's reserve fund. "That's money that's been set aside for emergency uses or unanticipated contingencies … maybe something like this," she said.

Stephen Morrissey, who represented White in the case said, "We think $2,500 is a significant chunk of the educational cost.

"We wanted terms defined as broadly as we could so even a kid who didn't graduate could pursue something like culinary school if he wants to, and this can allow him to get reimbursed. And teachers can pursue continuing education."

Morrissey said the case got within "a couple of months" of trial.

"This was a hard-fought case," he said. "They have really good lawyers, and a lot of them, and they were fighting every step of the way."

Athletes also will have easier access to another $218 million of existing funds with the settlement.


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