Catholic University's board of trustees have taken another step toward demoting the school's athletic program from Division I to Division III.

"The finance committee recommended to the board of directors (trustees) that CU go to Division III in basketball as of Sept. 1, 1981, and that was accepted by the board of directors with the stipulation that, if circumstances warrant in the interim, the president may recommend a reversal of this decision," said Sue Nelson, CU director of public relations.

The Saturday decision was made despite the efforts of the school's national alumni association, who said he had raised the $50,000 that CU President Edmund D. Pellegrino had said was necessary to keep Catholic at the Division I level, at least temporarily.

"Fifty thousand dollars was the figure given to me and given to you," said Comstock, who sits on the 34-member board of trustees."We had a commitment for that money, but the figure had changed substantially the day of the meeting . . . to $80,000.I don't think that's the issue.

"I certainly believed the $50,000 figure. It was stated to me three times.

For some reason, they (the trustees) did not see fit to alter their recommendation. I don't think $80,000 would have been any great problem (to raise). It was a problem of commitment.The commitment asked by the alumni was given."

Comstock said he was told Monday by Richard Applegate, vice president of the trustee's finance committee, that the $50,000 figure might change and that on Friday Applegate told him the amount had been raised to $80,000.

Pellegrino could not be reached for comment, but C. Joseph Nuesse, the school's executive vice president, said that after a lengthy discussion of "20 to 30 minutes . . . the vote was overwhelmingly favorable" of moving to Division III.

"He did present the pledges. The pledges were there, but also the figure ($50,000) had been revised because of the budget process," Nuesse said last night. "I wouldn't want to (name $80,000 as the necessary amount), but I believe that figure was mentioned in the discussion. But I don't think it had a bearing on the decision . . .

"There are two things really. One is the question of cash and the other the time frame allowed."

Comstock said the pledges would be received in time to be included in the next fiscal budget, which begins Sept. 1.

Jack Kvancz, CU athletic director and basketball coach, said he had no alternative at this time but to prepare for the school's move to Division III. He said reports of his moving to the vacant George Mason coaching position were exaggerated.

"I'm interested in George Mason. I'm interested in listening to any offer but, please believe me, I have not been asked to be interviewed for the George Mason job," Kvancz said. "If I were to be asked to be interviewed, than I would be interested in the George Mason job . . .

"But, if we are, in fact, going to Division III, I have a lot of homework to do. We have to study what we are going to do for the scheduling and then we have to look into recruiting. There's a lot of work to do. The biggest problem is scheduling."