Prince George's high school sports programs will be cut back about 10 percent from the level county athletic directors requested under the spending plan the Board of Education likely will approve Thursday.

Athletic administrators aren't happy about the cutback, but say it will not cripple the county's sports programs.

The cuts, expected to be approximately $210,000 out of a proposed $2.3 million budget, are not as severe as some administrators feared. A week ago, a group of athletic directors submitted a budget with a 30 percent cut that included dropping all junior varsity programs.

"Thirty percent is absolutely intolerable," High Point Athletic Director Ernie Welch said Monday. "Ten percent might be doable."

Welch said some junior varsity programs may still be cut, but he held out hope that shrinking junior varsity schedules would be enough. One cutback proposal reportedly considered was the elimination entirely of some sports such as wrestling, golf and tennis. That proposal is no longer on the table.

"Sports will be cut by 10 percent," said board member James E. Henderson (Seabrook), head of the board's budget committee. "The head of the sports department [Owen Johnson] said he can live without it."

Johnson, the county's director of athletics, was unavailable to comment Monday.

The budget lines that are in danger are labeled "medical support for contact sports," "support for varsity and junior varsity sports" and "support for school athletics." Specific cuts were scheduled to be determined at a meeting of county athletic directors at High Point High School yesterday.