BOWLING GREEN, KY. -- Four football players who wore Southern Methodist jerseys a year ago are learning to adjust to life at a smaller school in a smaller community.

They transferred to Western Kentucky University after the NCAA suspended SMU's program last February for repeated violations, including under-the-table payments from boosters and coaches.

All agreed that they chose Western Kentucky for the same reason: instant playing time.

"When you leave a big program like we did, you just want to play," said Gerard Mark, a 230-pound sophomore fullback.

He and teammates Tony Brown, Randy Garrett and Darryl Atwood represent the highest concentration of SMU transfers at one school.

"A lot of guys cried when they made the {suspension} announcement, but I didn't," Mark said. "The only thing I was sorry about was I didn't get my degree from SMU. It's a prestigious school and it would have meant a lot."

Mark said that "every big school takes care of its players. I felt sorry for the coaches because they had been living good for a long time and now they were all without jobs. They were good people. No matter what happened to you -- cops, girls, NCAA -- they would stick behind you."

Mark, who was an SMU reserve, declined to say whether he or any of his teammates now at Western Kentucky, a Division I-AA school, were involved in the pay-for-play scandal.