An academic cheating scandal could leave Florida State without as many as 25 players when the Seminoles go against Kentucky in the Music City Bowl on Dec. 31.

"We have some players not traveling for one reason and some for another, including those who are ineligible for the bowl because of academic issues," coach Bobby Bowden said in a statement released by the university yesterday.

Bowden put the number of players involved in the 25-player range. Many of the players also could be ruled ineligible for some games next season for their connection to the cheating scandal earlier this year.

Federal privacy laws prohibit the school from releasing names.

Bowden previously had not answered questions on the scandal that resulted in one full-time academic adviser, Brenda Monk, and a student tutor losing their jobs in the summer.

The university reported its findings in a letter to the NCAA in September after a 6-month investigation by the school revealed at least 23 athletes in various sports were implicated for cheating on tests.

At least two Seminole football players already have been penalized for their involvement. Defensive end Kevin McNeil missed the season and wide receiver Joslin Shaw missed the first four games.

Bowden said he would not use any players redshirted this season in the bowl game.

Noteworthy

* Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow won the Associated Press Player of the Year award.

Arkansas running back Darren McFadden, the Heisman runner-up, received was second, and Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan was third.

* Miami defensive coordinator Tim Walton was fired by coach Randy Shannon after the Hurricanes allowed more than 300 points this season for the first time since 1984.

* New Mexico star running back Rodney Ferguson won't play in the New Mexico Bowl on Saturday after being declared academically ineligible. Reserve running back Mike Love also is ineligible and cannot play when the Lobos (8-4) meet Nevada (6-6).

Paul Baker will start. *