The recruit was tall and strong, qualities every major basketball college coach seeks. So the phone calls and letters began pouring in, slowly at first and then with greater frequency until everyone in the recruit's family wished it would all end.

"At one point, I almost said, 'Forget it. I'll go to work,'" said the recruit. "It was terrible. The phone would start ringing and never stop. All hours of the day and night. It got to everyone in my family.

"When I finally signed, the first thing my mother told me was, "Thank God, we can get some sleep tonight.'"

A typical recruiting story-only the recruit's name wasn't Tom McMillen, Moses Malone or Albert King. It was Krystal Kimrey. And Krystal Kimrey is a 6-foot-5 reserve center on the University of Maryland's women's basketball team.

The horror's of college recruiting, that have plagued men's basketball since the first behind-the-back of dribble by some playground blue-chipper have infested women's basketball.

There are stories here at the Virginia Women's Invitational Tournament of coaches offering top prospects cars and apartments, of secret recruiting funds, and of prospects who say they'd open their door in the morning and find coaches on the doorstep.

"It's already cutthroat," said Dan Bonner, a former Virginia men's player who now coaches the Cavaliers' women's team. "And things will get worse. Remember, the men have been-finding ways to violate rules for 50 years."

Bonner thinks the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) is headed for a split over recruiting. Some member schools want to eliminate recruiting completely; others want all recruiting rules lifted; still others are seeking some acceptable middle ground.

At the recent AIAW convention, delegates voted to limit scholarships to tuition and fees only starting in August, 1978.Currently schools can to can also pay for room and board. The convention also refused to liberize the regulation that prohibits schools from paying their coach's recuriting expenses.

"That's what I object to," said Maryland coach Chris Weller. "I like our recruiting rules except I think it is unfair to ask a coach to foot her own expenses. That makes things unequitaablt right from the start. A coach who makes more money has an advantage over those who have small salaries.

"If we are going to allow recruiting, you've got to pick up the coach's expenses. There's no other way about it."

Some already have found ways to get around this "no-expenses" rule. According to coaches here, a few colleges have started paying their coaches a larger salary, with the additional money earmarked for recruiting. Bonner says he knows of at least one school that has raised "public relations" money and used it for recruiting.

"Some schools seem to fly all over the country seeing prospects," said Weller. "You have to wonder how they get the money."

Under AIAW rules, coaches are allowed to call and write prospects. But they are not allowed to visit recruits in their homes, nor are they allowed to pay for a recruit's visit to campus.

"We can watch a recruit play but we can't go up to her and talk to her after a game unless they approach us first," said Weller. "If they want to visit our campus, they have to pay their own way."

Whether those rules have been followed religiously by coaches is a matter of debate within AIAW ranks. Most of the controversy surrounds Nancy Lieberman, a freshman at Old Dominion University who was the only high school player on the U.S. women's Olympic basketball team. She claims coaches came to her house, and that at least one offered her a free car and apartment if she would accept a scholarship.

Kimrey says she received no illegal offers, but that didn't make her ordeal any more enjoyable.

"It was a hassle," she said. "I must have heard from gobs of schools, places I never knew existed. I never expected it to get like it did."

Kimrey comes from the small town of Albemarle, N.C. A friendly, easy-going sort, she wasn't prepared for the pressures recruiting.

She went to Maryland mainly because Weller didn't add to the pressure.

"Miss Weller called me one day and talked to me about the school," said Kimrey. "I wasn't sure I wanted to go that far away from home, but when I saw the campus I liked it. But I also liked North Carolina State.

"I was confused. The calls kept coming in. But Miss Weller only called maybe twice. She left me alone. She bothered me less than any of the other coaches. That's one of the reasons I chose Maryland."

Weller was late entering the recruiting struggle for Kimrey. She heard about her belatedly through a North Carolina high school coach and never saw her play. But any 6-foot-5 prospect was worth pursuing, especially one who played on an undefeated high school team.

"Usually, I don't recruit anyone unless they contact me," said Weller. "And we get plenty of letters from prospects. But if I hear of a tall girl, I'll contact her. Right now, having height in this sport is a must. You have a hard time winning without it."

After a recruit selects a school, there are still hassles. AIAW rules allow players to transfer to other schools and play immediately, even from one semester to the next. The only stipulation is that the athlete cannot receive financial aid for a year.

"people are always wondering if we are raiding other schools, just because we have a few transfer this year," said Weller, "It's a touch area. You can't make the first contact with a transfer, they have to approach you. But unless less you have witnesses, who knows what happened first?"

Like Weller, Bonner believes that recruiting is necessary "as long as you are giving out scholarships. And if you don't give out scholarships, you aren't giving the girls as much as the boys.

"Those who want to eliminate recruiting aren't realistic. Any school that is pouring money into its program like Maryland won't sit back and say, 'Hand it out without seeing the person who is getting it.' That's not smart business.

"If you are going to give scholarships, you have to make sure they are being given out to deserving people. It's only fair to the school and to the players."

The AIAW, however, says that coaches don't have to recruit in order to keep their jobs. "The requirement that I must recruit cannot be written into my job description," said Weller. "But how long am I going to be around if I don't go out and get good players?"