Martin Berdit asks, "Do we want {colleges} to continue to be the farm system for professional football and basketball?" {"Are Student Athletes Just Minor Leaguers?" letters, Nov. 11}.

If this, in fact, is what colleges and universities are doing, they are doing it unsuccessfully and should waste no time getting out of it. The overwhelming majority of college athletes never even get to training camp with a professional team, and few of those who do survive for more than a few days or weeks.

It's a matter of numbers. Consider the National Basketball Association. All but a very few of the players in the NBA are out of NCAA Division I basketball programs, and almost all got there after having been selected in an NBA draft. There were 291 schools in Division I this past season; if one assumes that three players per team become eligible to play professionally each year, that's a total of 873 players eligible for the NBA draft. But the draft is now only two rounds deep with only 54 players being drafted.

If all of the players drafted were out of Division I, that would mean that about 6 percent of those eligible have any kind of a shot at the NBA, but getting a shot isn't the same as the beginning of an NBA career. Washington 1989 draftees Doug Roth and Ed Horton are no longer in the NBA, and they are only two of many from that one draft alone who aren't NBA players today.

It's much the same for the other professional sports. This makes it impossible to justify the existence of college sports as a farm system of sorts for pre-professional athletes. College is for students and for some student athletes.

MAX G. BERNHARDT Silver Spring