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Southern Virginia is penalized for paying players

Published: Saturday, Aug. 18 2007 12:31 a.m. MDT

ROANOKE, Va. — The NAIA placed Southern Virginia's entire athletic program on probation for the 2007-08 school year and ordered the football team to forfeit five wins for paying two players.

Former football coach Gary Buer paid the players $8,000 over the past two years, Southern Virginia officials said. The money came from a donor who knew it would be going to the players. The athletic department has cut ties with the donor.

Athletic Director Tom Longenecker said no other school employee was involved.

"I don't think anybody got in a back room and said, 'Let's pay players,"' Longenecker said.

The school reported itself to the NAIA and learned of the sanctions early this month. Faculty and staff were notified by e-mail Wednesday.

The Knights must forfeit their four wins from 2005 and one of their three wins from last year. One of the players took part in the 2005 wins, while the other played in last year's win.

Buer resigned in March after a school investigation. He has been suspended by the NAIA for five seasons for knowingly violating NAIA rules.

Buer paid one player, who has since left school, $4,000 during the 2005-2006 academic year, said school spokesman R. Burke Olsen. Buer paid a second player the same amount the following year, Olsen said. That second player, who has been banned by the NAIA from competing this season, won't be back at Southern Virginia this fall, but Olsen said he was not kicked out of school.

Southern Virginia plans to test coaches on NAIA and school financial aid regulations and review those regulations with athletes.

Southern Virginia bills itself as "serving the LDS community." It became a four-year liberal-arts college in 1996 and began actively pursuing LDS students.

The school enrolled 752 last school year, according to its Internet site. More than a dozen Utahns are listed on the school's 2007 football roster.

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