Pannunzio put on paid leave by university

Updated: April 29, 2005, 4:37 PM ET
Associated Press

MURRAY, Ky. -- Murray State football coach Joe Pannunzio was put on paid administrative leave by the school Friday following the campus arrests of a player and former player on drug trafficking charges.

"Charges of this severity and magnitude demand stepped-up review of our football program," athletic director Allen Ward said. "A thorough investigation must continue."

Ron Lane, a junior running back, and Terrence Biggers, a former wide receiver, were charged with trafficking in a controlled substance within 1,000 yards of a school and possession of drug paraphernalia, according to county court officials.

Each pleaded not guilty Friday, and Judge Jeanne Carroll set a preliminary hearing for Thursday. Ward also suspended Lane from the team.

Lane and Biggers were arrested Thursday by campus police in a housing area, university spokeswoman Sherry McClain said. The university banned Lane and Biggers from the campus "given the serious nature of these charges," the school said.

"The type of behavior described is intolerable," Ward said.

Pannunzio has been the Racers' coach since January 2000 and has a 28-28 record in five seasons. Murray State finished 7-4 last season.

Lane rushed for 789 yards and seven touchdowns and caught 17 passes for 127 yards last season. Biggers caught 16 passes for 175 yards and quit the squad before spring practice, which ended Sunday.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press