Virginia tailback Barry Word, the Atlantic Coast Conference's leading rusher, was suspended from school for academic reasons and will not play in the Cavaliers' final game next week, school officials said today.
"He is not at school at this time. Then that would follow, that he cannot play against Maryland," said sports information director Rich Murray. "If a student is not in school, he cannot participate in an intercollegiate activity."
Word, a senior, was suspended from Virginia's college of arts and sciences "for his failure to meet a set of academic requirements," said Chip German, a spokesman for the university's general information office.
"I don't know what the term of the suspension is, but he is no longer a student in good standing," German said.
Word was not available for comment.
Virginia will end the regular season Nov. 29 at Maryland.
The Roanoke Times & World-News had reported that Word was placed on academic probation before the season and did not meet the terms of the probation. Specifically, the newspaper said, he did not meet the deadline for submitting a paper in a French class.
"He had some responsibility to get a paper in," Athletic Director Dick Schultz said. "I don't know where the breakdown was."
It was also reported that there is a student honor court hearing pending in February for Word from an accusation of cheating last May. However, sources said that had no bearing on his current problem.
Coach George Welsh, who placed his players off limits for interviews this week, would not comment.
Word, a senior from Halifax County, was named to the all-ACC team earlier this week. In last Saturday's 24-22 victory over North Carolina, he broke Virginia's season rushing record with 1,224 yards in 10 games. He scored six touchdowns, averaged 5.9 yards per carry (third in the nation) and had five consecutive games of 100 yards rushing.