RICHMOND, JULY 22 -- Virginia Tech's president and Board of Visitors, embarrassed by the university's protracted athletics scandal and goaded by Gov. Gerald L. Baliles, announced a series of academic and bureaucratic reforms today while pledging to remain competitive in intercollegiate sports.

The centerpiece of the planned reforms, aired here after Baliles lectured the Tech board on the need for "active, diligent and hands-on direction" of the state's largest university, will be the disbanding of the much-criticized Virginia Tech Athletic Association Inc., school officials said. The board also endorsed a considerably more vague plan to make the school's admission standards "comparable" to institutions such as the University of Virginia.

"I think we're on the road up," said W.S. White Jr., an Ohio utility executive and Tech alumnus who was elected university rector today by the 13 other voting board members.

"We've had some problems at VPI -- visible problems," added White, using the popular abbreviation for the polytechnic institute. Now, he said, "We will make sure our athletes are student-athletes, not just athletes."

White was one of a number of Tech overseers and officials who attempted to put a cheerful face on today's first gathering of the board since Baliles appointed four new members. After a year marred by allegations of illegal recruiting, the angry exit of two athletic directors and a severe debt in the Tech sports program, university officials suggested that the school was finally on the way to restoring its reputation.

However, as he had on two previous occasions, Baliles chided the Board of Visitors, and by extension, Tech President William E. Lavery, for the school's longstanding love of "big-time athletics." The governor said the passion had led to "big-time problems like financial mismanagement, erosion of academic credibility and violation of national {educational} norms."

Alluding to the findings of a recent Tech report that detailed "serious breaches of academic integrity," Baliles said: "Twelve NCAA violations are 12 too many."

Also today, a grand jury in Christiansburg, Va., near Tech reconvened to investigate allegations of extortion involving a former Tech basketball player. The grand jury is looking into a reported $7,200 car loan that the player's wife received from a former Tech sports official; the deal was among the NCAA violations cited in the school's recent internal investigation.

Lavery's plan to reorganize Tech athletics boiled down to three things: applying "systematic" admission standards to all school applicants, be they athletes or not; disbanding the largely autonomous athletic association and incorporating its program into the university bureaucracy, as most schools do, and making Tech sports financially self-sufficient with an immediate $300,000 fund-raising campaign and long-term capital program of new and improved sports facilities.

"We want to be competitive" in the NCAA's I-A Division, which includes other land-grant universities around the country, Lavery said.

Although Lavery disclosed he had considered pulling Tech out of its current division in favor of one for smaller schools, he and other university officials said they believe there is no inconsistency between bolstering the sports program and maintaining academic excellence.

"Our peer institutions do it. There's no reason why we can't," said Robert B. Claytor, the newly elected vice rector.

Tech officials did not offer many specifics about how the school's admission standards might be strengthened -- the reform plan will be refined at board meetings in August and November -- but they did indicate they will curtail the exceptions granted to athletes in the past.

"We're trying to solve this problem," said White. But, he added, "Just because we had a meeting today doesn't mean that's all that will be said."