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A federal appeals court in Philadelphia on Wednesday reversed a lower-court ruling and decided that the NCAA may use minimum standardized test scores in determining the eligibility of freshman athletes.

The lower court in March struck down the eligibility requirement, ruling that it was unfair to blacks.

Four black athletes had sued the association for not allowing them to play or denying them scholarships because their test scores were not high enough.

In a 2-1 opinion, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said that since the NCAA did not directly receive federal funding, it was not subject to conform with Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act that forbids discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin.

The NCAA standards were challenged by four black athletes in Philadelphia who contended they were denied athletic scholarships or sports eligibility because they did not score the minimum on the Scholastic Assessment Test or American College Test.

The standards, called Proposition 16, dictate minimum eligibility guidelines for freshmen in the association's 302 Division I schools.

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