(Adds comment from NCAA)
By Dan Levine
SAN FRANCISCO, Oct 14 (Reuters) - College athletes asked a U.S. appeals court on Wednesday to revisit part of a ruling in a high profile case brought by athletes seeking a slice of the billions of dollars universities reap from football and basketball.
More than 20 current and former athletes filed an antitrust class action against the NCAA. The lead plaintiff, Ed O'Bannon, won a national basketball championship with UCLA in 1995.
Last month, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled that the NCAA must permit schools to provide student-athletes sums covering up to their cost of attendance. However, the three-judge 9th Circuit panel also reversed a lower court order providing for up to $5,000 per year beyond that.
In its ruling, the 9th Circuit called the difference between paying education-related expenses and offering cash sums "a quantum leap" that could damage the unique amateurism of college sports.
The athletes on Wednesday asked the 9th Circuit to reconsider its ruling on the $5,000 payments before a larger, 11-judge panel. Such small payments would not harm consumer demand for college sports, they argued.
"While the plaintiffs initially claimed victory, their appeal today signals a different point of view. We look forward to presenting our views in the event the 9th Circuit asks us to respond to the plaintiffs' appeal," NCAA Chief Legal Officer Donald Remy said in a statement.
There is mounting public pressure for colleges to give athletes better benefits. Critics say the NCAA's scholarship policy short-changes athletes who risk injury and devote many hours to practice sessions, travel and competition. Most college athletes do not go on to play professionally.
The NCAA argues it is defending amateurism in college sports, and has said it now allows schools to provide up to the full cost of attendance as of Aug. 1. (Reporting by Dan Levine; Editing by Diane Craft and Grant McCool)