A group of women, many with husbands or sons who have ties to Virginia Military Institute, is coming to the defense of the school's all-male admissions policy.

The immediate priority of the Richmond-based group, called Virginia Women for VMI, will be to lobby against legislative attempts to require the state-supported Lexington school to admit women.

State Sen. Emilie F. Miller (D-Fairfax) intends to introduce a bill in the current session of the General Assembly to force VMI to enroll women.

In addition, VMI is fighting a U.S. Justice Department lawsuit that seeks to overturn its all-male admissions policy.

"Our purpose is to support the school as it is and as it has been," said Anne Woodfin, co-chairwoman of the group, which has about 30 members.

The organization plans a rally in support of the school on Tuesday at the state Capitol.

The other co-chairwoman, Nancy Rice, a graduate of Randolph-Macon Women's College, said, "People in Virginia ought to know that there are a lot of women who want VMI to stay the same."

The Justice Department's sex discrimination suit was filed in Roanoke on behalf of a Northern Virginia woman who wanted to attend the school. The case is scheduled for trial April 4.