MIAMI, JAN. 1 -- University of Miami players George Mira Jr. and John O'Neill learned today they would sit out the Orange Bowl national championship game against No. 1 Oklahoma when a Dade County Circuit Court judge refused to grant an injunction allowing them to play.

Mira and O'Neill were suspended by Miami last week when prebowl drug tests showed evidence of the diuretic Lasix. Diuretics are banned by the NCAA because experts believe they can be used to mask the effects of steroids. Mira and O'Neill have insisted they did not use steroids and only took the diuretics for medical reasons, unaware they were banned.

The 12-member NCAA Executive Committee on Thursday had rejected an appeal by the players, who failed the drug test administered on Dec. 11.

The NCAA's denial Thursday effectively ended their chances of playing, because Miami officials said they would disregard a court order unless the NCAA reversed its position. Miami was fearful of sanctions, including the loss of bowl revenue, from the NCAA if it allowed the players to participate.

This morning, in a courthouse empty except for the players and their attorneys, Judge Michael Salmon ruled that any injunction he could grant them "would be moot," and could not help them play because of Miami's position. Salmon ruled the court had no jurisdiction over the NCAA in the matter.

Salmon's decision cut short the career of Mira, a senior linebacker who was Miami's all-time career leading tackler. The son of former Miami all-America quarterback George Mira Sr., he had become a popular cause in the area, and enlisted former state attorney general Robert Shevin as one of his attorneys. Mira claimed he took the diuretic because of a water retention problem.

"I had a great career at Miami," Mira said. "It wasn't a disappointing season, it's just disappointing I can't play in the Orange Bowl. It's been very stressful. You make a mistake you really didn't know about, and you're never given the chance to prove yourself. I felt guilty from the start."

O'Neill, a junior offensive lineman, is one of the Hurricanes premier pass blockers. This is the second national championship game he has missed; last year he sat out the title game against Penn State in the Fiesta Bowl with an injury. O'Neill had claimed he took half a pill from Mira because he had a "shy bladder" and was afraid he could not complete the Dec. 11 NCAA drug test in time for an exam.

"I want to wish my teammates the best of luck, and then I'll wait until Monday and start all over again for next year," O'Neill said.

Salmon's ruling was based on the NCAA's insistence that it would not waive any possible sanctions it might take against Miami. Under Enforcement Section 10 of the NCAA manual, Miami could be stripped of a possible victory and forfeit $2.5 million in bowl profits if it used ineligible players. The NCAA compels member institutions to abide by its rules regardless of court orders, which can be reversed on appeal.

Attorneys for the players claimed their clients were not adequately advised by the NCAA or Miami that diuretics, more commonly referred to as "water pills," were banned. They drew a picture of sloppily worded literature that was only casually distributed by coaches.

They also argued the NCAA's constitutional right to test the players. But Salmon also stated in his decision that the NCAA is a private institution and therefore the players could not seek constitutional remedies for their claim of invasion of privacy under Florida law.

Mira's attorneys asked for a ruling prior to the game because he hoped to build the groundwork for future compensatory damages. Had Salmon ruled in his favor and the NCAA failed to win on appeal, Mira could have sued.

Mira and his attorneys said they could decide at a later date to pursue the case and attempt to have the NCAA's drug testing policy ruled unconstitutional, for reasons including invasion of privacy. Shevin contends he might have gotten a favorable ruling in that respect if he had more time to prepare.

Last month, Stanford University won a case in which NCAA drug testing was declared unconstitutional in the state of California.

"We think we do have some serious constitutional issues that might be pursued on another day," Shevin said. "Obviously whatever order {the judge} entered today wasn't going to be complied with."