Title 9, a federal law barring sex discrimination by colleges and school systems receiving federal aid, was enacted in 1972. Ever since, athletic departments at America's universities have been trying to deal with the complicated law.

Title 9 has had a major impact on the growth of women's sports on the collegiate level and also has been a constant source of controversy.

Athletic programs at three area schools and UCLA were recently examined to see how they are coping with Title 9.

Popular theory holds that California charts the nation's course for the innoviative and unorthodox, so it's not surprising that UCLA's approach to Title 9 blendsboth.

For unorthodoxy, it's Chancellor Charles E. Young telling the NCAA convention that Title 9 is workable and that the government does have a right to oversee how its substantial aid to higher education is spent.

For the innovative, it's a series of five-year plans for the women's program, mapped out the way city planners project business and residential growth.

"We've really come a long way and we did it in a pattern that was carefully planned," said Judith Holland, director of the women's intercollegiate sports department. "We're not having a great deal of problems for funding the program because it was planned over a long period and we're looking at the next 10 years now.

"There's still a lot to be done. We aren't where we want to be, but we're moving along the right road. This is a period of slow economic growth so we need a realistic appraisal of the present and future."

Then Holland pauses and offers another unorthodox view: "Women in the administration of athletics are going to have to come up with some innovative ways of funding women's athletics. We can't keep relying on the universities to fork over money."

Holland's view is shared by other women, but many have not received the financial and moral support UCLA has committed to its women's program.

The college made that committment when other large and small, private and public colleges were fighting to exempt sports from Title 9. So it is not surprising today that UCLA teams are big draws on the women's circuit.

UCLA defeated Maryland for the AIAW basketball championship last year and was a powerhouse again this winter. Its other women's sports draw national recognition, as well. Compliment to All

The women have reached standards that Athletic Director J. D. Morgan says he is proud of.

"I think it's a compliment to men's athletics and to the university," Morgan said. "Anytime you achieve something, no matter what phase of the university is involved-whether it's athletics, academics, research, or whatever-and you receive national recognition for that achievement, it's a compliment to the entire university."

Title 9, Morgan said, "is on the right track," and he does not expect UCLA to encounter many difficulties in complying. Other colleges, particularly those with big football budgets that help generate revenues to support other sports, may have some problems, he said.

As for UCLA, Morgan said, "I think Title 9 can realistically be accomplished with the adjustments we have suggested (to HEW).

Those suggestions have been included in the college's response to HEW, one of 649 replies the department got in asking for detailed responses to the policy proposals.

With an enrollment of 32,100 students, UCLA operates one of the nation's largest intercollegiate sports, programs. The university was one of the few that gave a detailed, elaborate response to HEW on the potential impact of the proposals.

Some would argue that UCLA, as a large state college, has financial resources other schools don't have. But money is tight and Proposition 13 doesn't help.

In his response to HEW, Chancellor Young said the college would probably have to increase its intercollegiate budget by $100,350 to $213,650, or 19 to 39 percent, depending on how HEW interpreted the college's spending policies.

For this academic year, UCLA has budgeted almost $4.3 million for the men's program and $539,650 for the women's.

Young urged a three-year adjustment period on items HEW considers measurable-financial aid, recruiting and a third omnibus category. He also urged that only recruiting costs that actually benefits students be included.

Given the "defenses" HEW permits colleges to use when justifying cost differences that veer from the average per capita spending standard, Young described the possible impact of Title 9 on UCLA.

Significiantly, Young said that football should not be exempted from the per capita spending formula. But, he added, the nature of the sport requires considerable financing at two levels.

First, the college must spend what is necessary just to operate the sport for the benefit of the players and those costs are unrelated to the support needed to generate revenues.

Second, there is additional support needed to play in the highly competitive NCAA Division 1-A level, which generates revenue from ticket sales and broadcasting-and, indirectly, from proud alumni.

Of the $4.3 million for men and $539,650 for women, UCLA contends $3.1 million fo the men's budget and $322,300 of the women's are not subject to financial comparisons since they entail administrative and direct program expenses. (The list includes, however, large differences in coaching salaries and such items as a training table and sports medicine program for men only.)

There are 517 men and 168 women participating this year, or a ratio of about three men for each women.

On scholarships, which have to be equalized on a per capita basis, the college spent $485,000 on men and $115,050 on women-a ratio of 4 to 1. To get down to the 3 to 1 ratio, the college would have to spend an additional $61,000 on women, or decrease the men by $169,000, or a little of each.

However, under Title 9 proposals, UCLA believes it can justifiably deduct half of the $225,000 in football scholarships because the highly competitive nature and national scope of the sport virtually forces the college to offer 90 scholarships.

If this defense is acceptable to HEW, the number of football players on aid would be counted at 45, lowering the ratio of participation rates from 3 to 1 to 2 1/2 to 1. Additionally, the total amount counted as spent on men's aid would drop to $373,000.

Under this proposal, if HEW agrees to the "deduction", UCLA would have to increase the women's aid by$34,000, decrease the men's by $86.000, or find a middle ground.

On recruiting, the college has budgeted $125,000 for men and $5,500 for women, for a ratio of almost 23 to 1. To get down to the 3 to 1 ratio, UCLA would have to increase the women's amount by $40,000, decrease the men's by $109,900 or some combination of the two.

Almost 75 percent ($93,000) of the men's recruiting budget goes to football, leaving $32,000 for all other men's sports.

If the entire football recruiting budget were deleted from comparison total because of the scope and level of competition , the male-female ratio drops to 6 to 1. Eliminate Comparisons

To get costs down to the 3 to 1 ratio, the college would have to increase spending on the women by $6,100, decrease the men by $16,900, or a combination of both.

When program expenses-equipment and event costs for football, basket, all other sports, plus publicity-are computed, the college plans to speed $651.930 on men and $102,300 for women, a ratio of 6 1/2 to 1.

To reduce the ratio to 3 to 1, UCLA would have to increase spending on the women by $134,700, decrease it for the men by $370,000 or a combination.

Becuase of the extraordinary cost of the equipment and the significant traveling costs for nonstudent personnel in football, the college figures it could reasonably "deduct" 50 percent of the equipment and event costs for comparison purposes.

Also, because of the differences in the costs of equipment and event expenses in sports other than football and basketball, the college figures another 10 percent deduction. CAPTION: Illustration, No caption, By William Coulter for The Washington Post; Picture, Women's basketball teams of Maryland and UCLA, two of the nation's best, enjoy new status since adoption of Title 9 rules. UPI