BLACKSBURG, VA., OCT. 2 -- Virginia Tech President William E. Lavery has been receiving unauthorized cash payments from the state since July 1, and will pay back about $9,000, a school spokesman said today.

"I think it was a misunderstanding," spokesman William Walker said. "It's a very complex part of the appropriations act."

Most, if not all, university presidents in Virginia are paid a state salary and a supplement, which comes from foundation funds, Walker said.

Lavery's salary went from $85,721 last year to $91,010 this year. The supplement, which has not been approved by Gov. Gerald L. Baliles, was to be raised from $35,279 to $37,455, Walker said.

University officials believed that only the increase in the supplement needed the governor's signature, so Lavery has been paid his supplement at last year's rate ever since the current fiscal year began on July 1, Walker said. But university officials learned today that the entire supplement must be approved annually by the governor.

"In other words, we should not have paid it since June 30," Walker said.

When Lavery learned of the error, he instructed officials to cut off payments of the supplement and agreed to reimburse the state, Walker said.

Lavery and Walker said they were not sure if Baliles had been holding back on the payments because of his displeasure at scandals involving Tech's athletics program.

A spokeswoman for Baliles said the supplemental pay for Lavery was being reviewed. The governor has approved the payments to other school presidents.

Baliles criticized Tech's athletic troubles at the school's commencement in June; Lavery has said he accepts responsibility for the situation but has no plans to step down.