It is too bad that Marylanders don't complain about the University of Maryland's educational failings as much as they raise hell about the failure of its athletic program and the attack of the NCAA monsters as reported by Michael Wilbon {Sports, Aug. 4}. If the history department were placed on three-years probation, no one would raise an eyebrow.

Mr. Wilbon cites Maryland as recently having a No. 1 football team and a basketball team rated in the top 10. Just how did Maryland land these top athletes and coaches? Is it such a magnetic institution that no one can resist enrolling there? One can scratch almost any Division I school and find favoritism, preferential treatment and unprofessional behavior. This is what is outrageous. Where are all the coaches, athletic directors and administrators who presided over the indiscretions that got Maryland in trouble with the NCAA? Long gone to ply their trade at some other yet unscathed institution. These are the people who "killed Maryland basketball."

Perhaps Maryland intercollegiate athletics won't survive. But on the other hand maybe UM can field teams that are not made up of semipros, but by people who enjoy participating in team sports in a college atmosphere. I find it difficult not to believe that UM has wasted much more money than it will lose to the NCAA meanies. Two over-funded groups probably are "athlete-students" and administrators.

Why not take a survey of the people who matter at the university -- the professors -- and see how upset they are with the NCAA's cataclysmic decision? We don't need more people whining about one of the least important aspects of higher education: athletics. R. D. BUSH Columbia

Michael Wilbon derided the NCAA's decision to reject the University of Maryland's appeal of its punishment for NCAA rules infractions by its basketball program. He mentions Clemson University and states that Clemson "has become synonymous with cheating in the 1980s."

When Clemson University was punished for infractions after it won the national football championship in 1982, most Clemson fans believed that those infractions, though numerous, were much too minor to have warranted the stiff penalties imposed. Fans still believe that today, after having seen in the intervening years dozens of other universities penalized less harshly for more serious infractions. Clemson's transgressions appear to have been less serious than Maryland's. However, Clemson's football team suffered far stiffer penalties than Maryland's basketball team now faces.

Furthermore, I can recall only two NCAA investigations taking place in the '80s involving Clemson: one for which penalties were imposed in 1982 but which occured in the '70s (and which can be compared, in severity, to Maryland's infractions), and one announced in May, which the NCAA affirmed did not involve members of the university staff, but an independent booster not affiliated with the university, and were infractions over which the university had no control.

Clemson supporters who live in this area are accustomed to occasional bad press by the local media, but Michael Wilbon's brief mention of Clemson is particularly baseless. CHARLES H. CHREITZBERG Severna Park