RICHMOND, JULY 9 -- Gov. Gerald L. Baliles, moving quickly to seize control of the board of overseers at troubled Virginia Tech, bumped two incumbents off that panel today as he installed four new members who have pledged to put academics before athletics at the state-supported school.

The four appointments, coming on the heels of Baliles' Graduation Day rebuke of Tech's ruling Board of Visitors because of an continuing sports scandal at the university, also signaled the governor's willingness to make further changes in the 15-member board to restore the institution's reputation.

"It is a time for new leadership on the board and for a signal to remaining board members . . . that academic priorities must be clearly established and promoted at Virginia Tech," Baliles said in a prepared statement.

Virginia Tech, in Blacksburg in the southwestern part of the state, is Virginia's largest university; its 22,345 students include 5,455 from Northern Virginia.

In naming two of the new board members -- former state attorney general William G. Broaddus, a longtime Baliles friend, and Clifford A. Cutchins III, chairman of the giant Sovran Financial Corp. -- the governor rebuffed two incumbents whose terms had ended but who also expressed hopes for reappointment. Baliles said incumbents G. Truman Ward, a Fairfax County architect, and banking executive Cecil Maxson were "qualified and committed to serve Virginia Tech. In other circumstances, they would be reappointed."

Maxson could not be reached for comment today.

Ward, who was contacted by the governor this morning, said, "I serve at his pleasure, that's all I want to say. I stand on my record of dedicated service."

The two other appointees are Edwin D. Harrison, a 71-year-old former president of Georgia Tech who attended and taught at Virginia Tech in the 1940s and 1950s, and Robert J. Grey Jr., 36, a Richmond lawyer and former chairman of the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission.

Harrison succeeds a board member who was ineligible for reappointment, while Grey replaced a member who resigned from the board to teach at Tech. The board includes 14 voting members, most of them business persons or educators appointed to four-year terms, and a nonvoting student member elected by the board itself to a one-year term.

Virginia Tech's troubles have included allegations of illegal recruiting, the bitter departures of two athletic directors in less than a year and a $4 million debt in the university's sports program. One week ago today, Tech officials issued a report about the athletic program that found "serious breaches of academic integrity" that included recruiting players incapable of performing college work and one case of tampering with an athlete's grade to make him eligible.

A year from now, Baliles will have an opportunity to gain a clear majority on the board when the terms of four more visitors expire. The governor plans to meet privately here with the new board later this month to discuss the university's future.

In interviews today, the four new members said they were committed to Baliles' view that Virginia Tech should put studies before sports.

"He didn't have to ask me -- I volunteered that," Harrison said from his home in Alpharetta, Ga., just north of Atlanta. Harrison, now retired from his position as executive vice president of J.P. Stevens & Co. Inc., previously has served on the boards of visitors of the U.S. Military and Naval academies.

"The purpose of anyone going to a university," he said, "is to obtain a degree and if the athletic department {interferes} with that, something's wrong."

"Substantial problems have diverted Tech's attention from its primary function," said Broaddus, 44, who has known Baliles since their days together at the University of Virginia Law School. Broaddus, Baliles' right-hand man when the governor was attorney general, succeeded his boss as attorney general in 1985 when Baliles resigned to run for governor.

Broaddus said that several weeks ago he and Baliles discussed the "broad outlines" of the speech the governor later gave at Tech's commencement exercises, an address in which Baliles bemoaned the school's "misspent financial resources . . . million-dollar coaching contracts and lavish expense accounts."

Cutchins, 63, the new appointee with the strongest ties to Tech, echoed Baliles today, saying the school's separately incorporated athletic program "probably didn't have the oversight it should have."

Cutchins (Tech '47), served on the school's board of visitors from 1964 to 1976 and 12 years ago helped select university President William E. Lavery, whose future in that office, according to some closely following the Tech saga, may now be in doubt.

"I'm disappointed that he had this unpleasantness," Cutchins said of Lavery. "You can look at it sort like the Navy -- the captain of the ship is in charge and responsible -- but there were extenuating circumstances. President Lavery has done an outstanding job in bringing Tech forward."

Baliles suggested today that the school still has a ways to go. "At this point in Virginia Tech's history . . . actions are required to ensure that athletic programs will be administered with fiscal prudence and integrity," the governor said.

"The students and the faculty of Virginia Tech deserve no less."