"We think it's an important case for Michael and similarly situated athletes whose rights are overlooked by the NCAA and its member institutions," Huffstetler said.
During oral arguments before the court in September, Huffstetler told the judges that McAdoo's disqualification harmed his pro prospects, resulting in a contract paying him the current league minimum of $465,000 for a second-year player.
Attorneys for UNC and the NCAA argued that students can't claim a right to play college football. McAdoo's decision to leave school for the NFL negated his claim that losing his college eligibility would affect his professional prospects, attorneys said.
UNC spokeswoman Karen Moon said Tuesday that the university would not comment on the ruling.
McAdoo was one of seven players forced to miss all of the 2010 college football season during the NCAA investigation into improper benefits and academic misconduct within the Tar Heels program. The probe led to the firing of head coach Butch Davis and the early departure of Dick Baddour as athletic director.
Follow AP writer Michael Biesecker at twitter.com/mbieseck