If Boyse Mosley gets his way, there'll be no football, basketball or other interscholastic sports at Northwestern High School here. And he may get it. He's principal of Northwestern.

In a surprise announcement at a Wednesday night community meeting, Mosley told stunned parents and teachers he will request permission from the city school system to abolish all interscholastic sports, as well as home economics, wood shop and print shop, and use the money saved to hire more English, science and math teachers.

"It's very simple," said the brusque 51-year-old Mosley in an interview. "It's more important for my youngsters to read a newspaper or a book than to be able to read a pass defense."

Financially troubled school systems often look to sports as one place in their budgets they can trim. Prince George's County, for example, cut out interscholastic sports in the junior high schools there several years ago. But no Maryland school has ever cut out all such sports, according to a spokesman for the Maryland State Board of Education.

News of Mosley's proposal spread quickly across Northwestern's sprawling campus today, leaving many students angry. "I think it's unfair . . . This will lower the morale of the whole school," said Frank Thomas, 17, a senior and member of Northwestern's soccer and lacrosse teams.

"A lot of people are going to be mad," said Leroy Duncan, 16, a running back on the junior varsity football team, the Wildcats, as his teammates grunted through their drills at afternoon practice.

"I would have nothing to hold on to," said Stacey Sumpter, 17, a Northwestern cheerleader of three years' standing.

Echoing complaints of several students, Thomas said, "I think it's unfair because most athletes here, their parents can't afford college, and going out for sports and getting a scholarship is the only way to get into college."

There was also grumbling among some school administrators at Mosley's proposal, but school superintendent Alice Pinderhughes said it was "an idea I would be interested in." Mosley said he expects to present a formal plan to her next spring.

The proposal would allow students interested in interscholastic sports to transfer to other schools, he said, and would expand intramural sports at Northwestern. Students wishing to pursue home economics, print shop or wood shop would go to Baltimore's vocational high school.

Mosley, who became known in his first year at the school last year for his strict rules on dress and decorum, said he expected "to take a lot of heat" for his unusual proposal. "I'm sure some parents will feel this is not the way to go," he said.

Mosley said he was prompted to make his proposal because students at his 1,500-pupil school have been scoring below national norms on scholastic achievement tests. "I'm held responsible . . . and rightly so for their performance," he said. With limited financial resources, "something has to give."

Which is more important, he asked, "to have youngsters competing successfully in life, or creating a great football team?"

Mosley said he does not know how much money it costs to support the eight interscholastic sports at Northwestern -- football, basketball, baseball, tennis, track, soccer, wrestling and volleyball -- "but it's a lot . . . the coaches' salaries, equipment, fees for officials, transportation, medical costs, security." He estimated 200 Northwestern students take part in interscholastic sports.

Despite the seemingly radical nature of his proposal, Mosley, who played high school football as a 155-pound fullback in his native Pennsylvania, doesn't want anyone to get the wrong idea. "I love sports," he said. "I yell on the sidelines. I cry when they lose. I laugh when they win."