The Hambletonian, harness racing's most prestigious event, will be moved from DuQuoin, Ill., to The Meadowlands in East Rutherford, NJ., for three years, starting in 1981.

The Hambletonian Society, meeting in Lexington, Ky., yesterday, awarded The Meadowlands the contract on the second ballot by a 12-9 vote over the DuQuoin State Fair, where the race has been held since 1957.

"There has been some feeling in the past that DuQuoin did not draw the crowds the race deserved," said Don Evans, the U.S. Trotting Association's vice president for publicity.

President Carter congratulated Boston slugger Carl Yastrzemski at the White House yesterday for achieving "4,000 hits," then joked that he made a mistake about the number (he should have said 3,000) because he was thinking of another Georgian, Ty Cobb.

Yaz visited the Oval Office and presented the president a Red Sox jacket, apologizing that, "It's been worn a couple of times."

State Attorney General Dennis J. Roberts announed indictments of five University of Rhode Island students, including four soccer players on the school's nationally ranked team, on charges stemming from alleged sexual assaults.

The five were charged in connection with four alleged incidents of rape or attempted sexual extortion last month. A Washington County grand jury handed up first-degree sexual assault indictments against team members John R. Brubacher, Kenneth L. Brekka, and Kevin Murphy. Patrick Boyle, not a team member, was also indicted.

Former Green Bay Packer fullback and placekicker Ted Fritsch Sr., the NFL's leading scorer in 1946, died Thursday night at the age of 58 in Green Bay, apparently of a heart attack.

Fritsch's son, Ted Jr., is backup center for the Washington Redskins.

The Cleveland Cavaliers have traded center-forward Jim Chones to the Los Angeles Lakers for center-forward Dave Robinson and a third round draft choice in 1980.

Ken Strong, one of the most versatile backs ever to play in the National Football League, died yesterday at the age of 73 of an apparent heart attack.

The Medical Examiner's office said that Strong was walking on a midtown New York street when he collapsed. He was dead on arrival at Bellevue Hospital, a spokesman for the Medical Examiner said, "seemingly of natural causes."

Strong was an All-America half-back for New York University and he played professionally on and off from 1929 through 1947, most of the years with the New York Giants.

The 5-foot-11, 210-pound Strong not only ran from his halfback position but also passed, punted, placekicked and played defense.