The NCAA agreed Tuesday to pay $54.5 million to entry-level coaches who had sued because they were not being paid enough.
The governing body of college sports also agreed to drop its appeal of a judge's ruling in favor of the coaches.
"This has been a long and -- unfortunately -- divisive issue," said Charles Wethington, NCAA executive committee chairman. "It has pitted employee against school and sometimes friend against friend."
The settlement was reached through mediation, and both parties had been trying to agree on a settlement figure since Feb. 24.
The restricted-earnings rule was adopted as a cost-cutting move by near-unanimous vote of Division I schools in 1991. The rule capped salaries for assistants in various sports at $12,000 for the academic year and $4,000 for the summer.
The rule was lifted in 1995 after the courts found the NCAA violated antitrust law. Last fall, the NCAA offered $44 million as a settlement while the coaches sought $60 million.
The restricted-earnings case was a consolidation of three lawsuits.
In 1997, a federal judge in Kansas City declared the legislation violated antitrust law. The NCAA lost an appeal, and its petition to have the U.S. Supreme Court hear the case was denied last fall.
A trial on damages was held in Kansas City last year, and a jury awarded the coaches more than $22 million. The court tripled the damages to $67 million because it was an antitrust case.
Earlier this year, the judge in the case granted the coaches' motion to increase the damages to nearly $75 million to adjust for inflation.
The NCAA appealed to the 10th Circuit Court, contending the court made mistakes in the trial. The mediation services became available when the petition for appeal was entered.
"In cases of this type, there are consequences for everyone," Wethington said. "The important task at hand is to minimize adverse consequences for the student-athletes. It is time now for the NCAA and all those who support higher education and intercollegiate athletics to put this behind us and move forward"
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