Virginia tailback Barry Word, who rushed for more than 100 yards in eight of 10 games this season but will miss the Cavaliers' finale at Maryland Friday because of an academic suspension, has been named the Atlantic Coast Conference football player of the year.
Word, a senior from Long Island, Va., received 36 of 104 votes in the ACC Sports Writers Association balloting. Offensive tackle Jim Dombrowski, who did much of the blocking for Word, was runner-up with 23.
Word, suspended for failing to meet the terms of an academic probation and, he said, facing an honor trial at the university for allegedly cheating during an exam last May, says he realized some time ago that school was not as important to him as football.
"After my sophomore year I realized I really didn't want to be in school," Word said in an interview with the Charlottesville Daily Progress. "I knew I could do better than I was doing, but the interest just wasn't there. But you don't just stop school. I hadn't played enough football to prove myself."
Word said his suspension could have occurred at any time during the semester and that he tried to hang on until after the Maryland game.
"A lot of times the anticipation of this whole honor stuff coming out in public depressed me," he said, but his troubles also inspired him on the field.
"I knew I had to have a good year to enhance my chances as a professional. If anything, the honor charge made it easier for me because . . . on game day I could take out my frustration on whoever got in my way. There was a type of anger in me that came out on the football field, a type of desperation. And through that a lot of my talents came out," he said.
Word set a Virginia record with 1,224 yards rushing, beating Johnny Papit's 1,214 yards in 1949 . . .
Deana Tate, the Maryland women's basketball player involved in a recent reprimand given Coach Chris Weller for a recruiting violation, has been cleared by the NCAA Subcommittee on Appeals to play with the Terrapins this season.
"They ruled, based on additional information we provided, that the intent was not to punish the student but the university," said Associate Director of Athletics Randy Hoffman.
The Atlantic Coast Executive Committee had reprimanded Weller for allowing Tate, a prospective student-athlete at the time and attending the University College, a division of the U.-Md. system, to travel with the team for three away games in 1984. As a result, Weller is not allowed to recruit or evaluate prospective student-athletes off campus until July 1, 1986.
While Tate joined the team, Maryland confirmed the resignation of Gabe Romano, Weller's assistant coach, for personal reasons.