Raymond (Hap) Spuhler, who oversaw the dramatic rise of George Mason University's athletic program the last 12 years, has announced his resignation as athletic director because he has cancer.

Sphuler, who has doubled as baseball coach since coming to the fairfax school in 1967, had planned to stop coaching when this season ended. Now the bout with cancer has decided him to end his career as athletic director, as well, at the end of August and leave the school.

"It's no secret that I have Cancer," Spuhler said. "They think they have it under control. But I knew I couldn't devote as much to the program as I wanted to in the coming years.

"The ironic thing is that finally we have a new president (Dr. George W. Johnson) who is the most interested in sports of all we've had. If there is one thing I regret, it's not being able to stay on two more years and see him operate.

Sphuler arrived at GMU after retiring from the Marine Corps as a lieutenant colonel, following 23 years of service, and having served as athletic director at St. Stephen's Episcopal School in Austin, Tex., for two years.

"I was extremely fortunate to be able to step into a position at George Masion that was new enough that I could put some personal touches on it," Spuhler said.

"When I first came here we had only three sports and an $8,000 budget. Now there are 17 with a budget fo $400,000 for next year. If this were an old, established school I probably wouldn't be leaving behind such warm feelings."

Spuhler, who also coached basketball briefly, made no attempt to hide his preference tor baseball.

"Baseball has been the most pleasure for me," Spuhler said. "We didn't have to get a 6-foot-8 kid to have a successful program. George Mason teams had twic as many games scheduled per year as most schools in the area. I guess it was easier to schedule like that when you are ahtletic director."

Spuhler's baseball teams have compiled a 370-194 mark, a fine 65 percent winning record. The Patriots won three Mason-Dixon Conference titles and two Potomac Intercolegiate Conference postseason tournaments.

He said his teams' best year was the 1976 season, when GMU went 42-14, won the National Association of Inter Collegiate Athletics district title and finished fifth in the NAIA World Series.

Sphuler coached the likes of Gil Hodges against such as Pee Wee Reese at military bases in Quantico, California and Hawaii. His teams at Quantico won worldwide all-Navy titles two consecutive years.

After breaking in a successor, Sphuler will move with his wife and daughter to Albuquerque, N.M.

"I leave with very good feelings," Sphuler said. CAPTION: Picture, Raymond (Hap) Spuhler