I was intrigued by The Post's story comparing Colorado's acceptance of its recent fifth-down victory and Cornell's forfeiture of its 1940 decision over Dartmouth {"5th Downs 50 Years, Attitudes Apart," Sports, Oct. 12}.

The Colorado decision exemplifies the misdirected attitudes which so often plague big-time college athletics and our society as a whole: Win at any cost, bend the rules to your advantage, maximize today's profit without regard to future consequences and money is everything. These are the same attitudes that leave us with an enormous federal deficit, a paralyzed Congress, a savings and loan crisis and a remarkable impatience to expend lives in the Persian Gulf before diplomatic options are exhausted.

It is interesting that the same people who laud Cornell's 1940 decision apologize for Colorado's on the grounds that so much is at stake today in college football.

Much more is at stake. Our universities train and influence the leaders of tomorrow's world -- a world that requires unprecedented global cooperation, fundamental fairness and self-sacrifice.

Intercollegiate athletics is one of the most visible means by which universities teach values to society. The contrast between Cornell's decision 50 years ago and Colorado's today is most instructive. Cornell's should be glorified at every opportunity. Colorado's should be criticized, not apologized for under the guise of situational ethics. DANIEL R. MACKESEY Vienna