The NCAA must release documents on Florida State University's appeal of an academic cheating penalty because they are public records, a state appellate court ruled Thursday.
A three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal upheld a trial judge's decision last month ordering the NCAA to make the documents public after blacking out students' names.
That ruling had been on hold pending the appeal court's decision. It was not immediately clear when the documents would be released to The Associated Press and other media that sued the NCAA, Florida State and the university's outside law firm.
"This is a resounding victory for the public's right to know," said AP Assistant General Counsel Karen Kaiser.
NCAA spokesman Bob Williams said the organization was reviewing the decision and considering its options. They include asking the full 15-member district court to rehear the case or taking it to the Florida Supreme Court.
The NCAA tried to keep the documents secret by putting them on a read-only, secure Web site that could be accessed by FSU's outside lawyers rather than sending them to the university on paper or through conventional electronic means such as e-mail.
The documents relate to FSU's appeal of an NCAA sanction to strip coaches and athletes of wins in 10 sports.
That includes football coach Bobby Bowden, who stands to lose 14 victories. It would dim his chances of again becoming major college football's winningest coach. Bowden has 384 victories - two behind Penn State's Joe Paterno.