George Washington quit the Eastern College Athletic Conference yesterday, but what the heck, it was only nine years ago that GW left the Southern Conference.

Double what the heck, even with four more of GW'S cohorts in the young Eastern Eight resigning too, the ECAC still has upward of 225 schools to service.

Rutgers, Massachusetts, Duquesne and St. Bonaventure bolted with the Colonials as culmination of the struggle over TV-packaged Saturday afternoon basketball between the Eight (Villanova excepted, its track program rooted too firmly in ECAC) and the umbrella organization stretching from Maine deep into Virginia.

"The refusal of the ECAC to consider a compromise prompted us to resign," said Bob Faris, GM's veteran athletic director . . .

A 35-day setback for RFK Stadium's world championship fight: Nov. 24 the new date for Pipino Cuevas' WBA welterweight defense against Angel Espada. Promoter Jim Denson reports Cuevas hurt his left hand -- stretched ligaments -- working out with sparring partner Jose Palacios in Mexico City. It happened Sept. 8 and after 10 days in a cast, the medics looked and suggested he not resume training until Oct. 15. The bout was originally slated Oct. 20. Anyhoo, tickets go on sale Friday -- ranging from $30 to $100. It better be a title bout . . . .

Wes Chandler, the New Orleans speedball out at least this week's Giant game with a groin pull, not only led the NFL in receiving going into Sunday's win over San Francisco, but his 20 catches for 389 yards eclipsed the team totals for eight rival clubs through three games. He added four grabs, 127 yards before being hurt in the third quarter . . . Lynn Swann, the Super Steeler pass magnet, is definitely out of Sunday's date in Philadelphia: hamstring pull.

Inflation, recession? The 80,123 Browns-Cowboys crowd in Cleveland Monday sent NFL weekend attendance to 851,723 -- breaking the record of 837,755 set only three weeks ago . . . Baseball, of course, broke its all-time attendance mark when it reached 40,698,124 on Sept. 16.

Mayhap an inordinate crowd for second-division Atlanta tonight: for the first time in a long time, Joe Niekro squares off against Phil Niekro. It's Houston's Joe going for his 21st victory and trying to thwart his older brother's bid to pull a Wilbur Wood and be a 20-20. . . .

Surprise Cubbie among those so disappointing to old-fashioned Herman Franks, lately manager: Bill Buckner. Franks is quoted by the Chicago Tribune: "There haven't been many people in baseball who fooled me, but I have to admit Buckner was one. I thought he was the All-American boy . . . the kind who'd dive in the dirt to save ball games for you. What I found out . . . is that he's nuts . . . He goes berserk if he goes through a game without getting a hit . . . All he cares about is Bill Buckner" . . .

Gene Kelly, "voice of the Phillies" as the NL club's play-by-play announcer during the 1950s, died last week at 60, after a long illness . . .

Jerry Lewis, the entertainer who has gained renewed fame with his annual Labor Day telethons for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, will receive the second annual Hubert H. Humphrey Memorial Award at the 45th annual awards dinner of the Touchdown Club of Washington. John J. Gourley, past president of the club, has been named general chairman for the dinner, set for the Sheraton Washington Jan. 12, and who better to corral celebs galore?

Another date to note, the seventh annual Welcome Home luncheon for the Bullets and Capitals is set for Friday, Oct. 5, Shoreham Americana (that's a switch from the usual Prince George's setting), and the $15 toll goes for a prime cause: the Marc Splaver Sports and Convocation Center to be built, soon, we hope, we hope, at American University.