I was appalled to read the July 28 front-page article about student athletes being counseled to fail their senior year so that they can improve their chances of playing in college.

I have taught high school for 31 years, and I have watched this attitude of "do anything to get the athlete" go from bad to worse. When the assistant football coach of the University of Maryland says, "I don't know if it is unethical," the depth of the problem becomes apparent.

In the article, NCAA representative Steve Mallonee said, "It's hard to argue against" the fact that the present system benefits those who do not graduate. Who is he kidding? The present system benefits college athletic programs. No one seems to care that these kids are just gladiators waiting to be sacrificed for the entertainment of others.

The prep school route to college is a joke, too. Does anybody really believe that you can take an inner-city kid who can't pass algebra or English to Avon, Conn., and turn him into a Rhodes scholar in a year?

University of Virginia football coach Al Groh was quoted as saying that a player "is going to take the same courses in high school and prep school under either scenario." The player may take the same courses but the intention is clear -- he's there to get good grades, whatever it takes.

High school recruiting of athletes who can't make the grade is nothing more than cheating, pure and simple. Unfortunately, the loser is the student athlete who attends college and ends up with no skills, no job and, frequently, no diploma.

SYLVIA WILLOUGHBY

Crofton