The NCAA's drug testing program suffered another setback Tuesday, when a California appeals court ruled that the testing is too broad and its accuracy doubtful.

In a lawsuit filed by athletes from Stanford University, the 6th District Court of Appeals ruled by a 3-0 margin that the program violates a right to privacy protected by the California constitution. The ruling, if upheld, will apply only to Stanford and other California schools.

"The evidence did not support the NCAA's claim that there is significant drug use among student-athletes," wrote Justice Eugene Premo, who recommended that the NCAA place more emphasis on drug education.

One year after the NCAA began drug testing in 1986, Stanford diver Simone LeVant filed the suit. She later dropped out of the case, but football player Barry McKeever and soccer player Jennifer Hill picked it up.

Tuesday's ruling upholds the original 1988 decision of Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Conrad Rushing.

The NCAA said yesterday it had just received its copy of the ruling and has not decided whether to appeal.

The NCAA was more successful in another legal matter this week, as a lawsuit challenging its eligibility rules was dropped.

Ex-Vanderbilt football player Brad Gaines, who was suing for the right to play for the Commodores even though he was eligible for the 1990 NFL draft, said the refusal of a temporary restraining order by U.S. District Judge Thomas A. Wiseman made the suit pointless, since it would delay the case until after the season.

Gaines, a free safety, filed the suit against the NCAA, Vanderbilt and the Southeastern Conference, charging the NCAA with operating a monopoly and committing antitrust violations.

Wiseman's opinion notes that Gaines -- who was not picked in the draft -- signed a Petition For Special Eligibility and Renunciation of College Eligibility to the NFL, which effectively ends a player's collegiate career.

Although the Gaines case is dead, the issue is not. Former Notre Dame player Braxston Banks has filed a similar suit.Down, and Out

When Penn State and Alabama announced last season that they would discontinue their annual game after this season, the final meeting -- Oct. 27 at Alabama -- was expected to be even more important than usual. But the teams have combined to go 1-5 thus far, meaning the game's only value may be symbolic.

While the Nittany Lions have one win to their credit, the Crimson Tide is 0-3 under new coach Gene Stallings. And things could get worse, since Alabama still plays Tennessee, LSU and Auburn, besides Penn State.

The Crimson Tide has been disabled by injuries to all-SEC running back Siran Stacy, split end Craig Sanderson and flanker Prince Wimbley.

"We've lost some producers on offense," Stallings said. "The defense has not given up a whole lot of points, but we're not scoring points like we want to. We've lost some producers and somebody has got to pick up the slack." All-Century

Either Stanley James played the game of the century last season, or something odd is afoot at Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

James, a defensive back, was named an NAIA all-American last season, based largely on a school release that said he made 76 tackles and deflected 29 passes. Now, sports information director Carl Whimper says James played only one game in 1989, after which he injured his knee and missed the rest of the season. Whimper says the statistics used in James's all-American package were a combination of his junior and senior years.

This case is one of many being investigated by the NAIA, which lists 34 current and former Arkansas-Pine Bluff players in allegations made against the school.

Coach Archie Cooley has responded by criticizing the local media.

"I'm tired of people picking on me," he said. "If you want me gone, why don't you just buy my contract up and tell me to leave? Give me a half-million dollars and I'll leave. Other than that I'm not going anywhere. So you either do that or shut up. I'm tired of taking the abuse from you people."

During a Sept. 15 game against Clark College, Cooley was guarded by three campus security officers and an Arkansas highway patrolman after a death threat made by a caller to the school's security department. The caller wanted to know why Cooley hadn't been fired. . . .

Local player report: North Carolina sophomore linebacker Tommy Thigpen (Potomac) is second on the Tar Heels in tackles with 37 and tied for the ACC lead in sacks with four. . . . Penn State running back Richie Anderson (Sherwood) may be redshirted this season. . . .

Montgomery-Rockville, which upset then-No. 3 Nassau (N.Y.) Community College Saturday, moved into the junior college rankings at No. 10. . . . Division I-A's longest winning streak belongs to Florida State (13 games). . . . Despite Brigham Young's penchant for piling up yards, the Cougars are second in Division I-A in total offense. The leader: Louisiana Tech, averaging 562.5 yards per game. The problem: the Bulldogs are 2-2. . . .

Maryland running back Frank Wycheck, who has 38 receptions in four games, needs to average two catches per game to break the school's single-season reception record of 51, set by Greg Hill in 1984.