It is one of those athletics vs. the AAU - that thoughtful witnesses hope both parties lose. Still, a trial would be fascinating, as yet another example of how small minds often tackle large problems in American amateur sport.

Stones is The Mouth That Soared, the high jumper who set new standards in his event as well as in ways to bend the rules of amateurism. The latter may have been the more difficult feat, for the traditional amateur track and the field salute for decades has been an open palm.

In the latest fuss, the AAU has suspended "indefinitely" Stones and other Olympians, middle distance runner Francie Larrieu, javelin thrower Kate Schmidt and penathelete Jane Fredericks for not giving two-thirds of their prize money in their phoneysport "Superstars" to the AAU.

For generally making fools of themselves. Stones won $33,421.28, Frederick $17,600, Larrieu $3,100 and Schmidt $3,9000. Instead of donating their money to the AAU for distribution, the women directed all of it to the Pacific Coast Club. Stones was not inventive.

His money went to the club, except it develops that the Desert Oasis Club had one active member - Stones. The officers are members of his family.

The women have been silent about their suspensions - and all have the right of appeal. Last week Stones went to court, charging that the AAU is corrupt, antiquated and self-serving."

"I would like for the amateur system to be changed," Stones continued. "The AAU is making slaves of the athletes. While athletes pay dues and compete for free, the profits of defendants are big business. Expulsion or suspension from the local association member and/or the AAU is the forced termination of the athlete's career."

This is not quite like Jesse James suddenly trying to investigate the Texas Rangers. But Stone is hardly is the one to lead a charge toward purity, though he has the resources and the arrogance to give the AAU a stiff kick in the assets.

During the Montreal Games, he was asked for comment about the world-wide shoe commercial given by Lasse Viren after winning the 10,000 meters.

"I would not be so blatant," he said "What I endorse (pluma) is on my feet, and that's enough. What that other company (Tiger) does is so gauche." He was quick to emphasize that he drew a salary from Puma as "market research manager" and "technical development manager."

Why Stones now when the AAU could have gotten an even juicer plum in Frank Shorter.?

On Sept, 9. 1975 for all the world to hear in the Senator Room of the Statler Hilton Hotel here, Shorter said: "When I was in training in 1970 trying to get good . . . in between the food-stamp line and training l would go out to California, say from New York for two or three meets and I would get one plane ticket to get out there and I would get one or two plane tickets for other meets and then I would cash these in "Now that is the situation in the United States. . ."

There was more, but the AAU already has enough to hang Shorter from the nearest pole-vault pit. But the Olympics was on the horizon - and television had given Shorter and marathon its devoted attention.

"The whole amateur program in this country is conductive to makin hypocrites out of everybody," said a man deeply involved in amateur sports at various levels. "A youngster gets involved, say, in running and looks around him and sees who takes what - in cash. He figures, "Why not me?'"

Whispers within the track world asy the AAU may have nailed Stones after an IRS investigation of his life style and income taxes. And AAU letters to all four atheletes suggest they in fact allowed the AAU to see one contract with "Superstars" and signed another.

Whatever the AAU rules state that one-third of all prize money goes to the national AAU, one-third goes to the regional AAU and one-third goes to the club or charity of the athlete's choice.

How's that? The AAU lets an athelete decide where one-third of the money goes, but not three-thirds. Or perhaps $58,000 gets the AAU's attentions quicker than $500 violations involving dozens of athletes.

To get Stones, the AAU also had to grab the women, non of whom probably could earn half the salary of underpaid school marm if track and field were as open as tennis.

Which it should be.

The AAU often, perhaps usually, gets more abuse than it deserves in disputes in athletes. Too many peoplepeople work too hard for too long - for nothing - not to be given a sympathetic hearing.

Frequently AAU officials will tell the athletes exactly what they need in terms of birth certificates and passports for international meets, then work under immense deadlines to produce this documents elsewhere when the athletes cavalierly say: "I forgot."

But there are too many instances of the AAU turning its back at one violation or and slapping another for nearly the same sin. And Reggie Jackson will pay more in fines in five days than Kate Schmidt is likely to earn in his lifetime throwing the javeline.

A Stones vs the AAU trial would be highly instructive. Probably, the most comforting fact would be that the one part of the economy not troubled by inflation is under-the-table payoffs to athletes.