A $10,000 pledge from George Steinbrenner, a Tampa resident obviously enamored of wintertime winners as well as summertimers when they are his New York Yankees, has helped swing the deal and Lee Rose is off to South Florida as basketball coach.

Now Rose, fresh from taking Purdue to the NCAA final four as he had earlier with UNC-Charlotte, can go for a triple crown. He forsakes Boilermakers (after only two years) for Golden Brahmans, and a heavy building job faces him.South Florida had been operating with an interim coach since canning Chip Conner in January. Bill Gibson, the Former ACC coach of the year wooed away from Virginia a few years back to make the Tampa school a power, was on the right road, but South Florida basketball has never recovered from his death in 1976.

Rose, counting salary, pledges such as Steinbrenner's paid housing, summer camp and radio-TV package, should approach $80-85,000 a year. All this and a brand-new 10,500 seat Sun Dome to showcase his first team back in the Sun Belt Conference he helped organize . . .

You think home edge isn't meaningful in pro basketball? If you want to bet on the Bullets tonight, you must spot the Sixers' two points, in Jimmy the Greek's line. Washington favored! . . .

Ralph Sampson, the 7-foot-4 frosh Virginian, tells at least one inquirer that, yes, the fact the Celtics want him No. 1 will make him think extra hard about volunteering this month for the NBA draft . . . We stand corrected on the NFL draft note. The league isn't even charging ESPN cable TV to cover Draft Central on April 29; just thought it would be a nice idea. WMAL Radio's Andy Ockershausen reminds, meanwhile, that you can catch the same act "live" on AM, Ken Beatrice and Johnny Holliday, all regular programming interrupted as selections develop . . .

A signal honor for American U.'s junior forward Boo Bowers: outstanding visiting player against a Philadelphia Big Five team the past season. He receives the Harry Merrill Award from the Herb Good Basketball Club at an April 14 banquet, over fellow Big Five all-opponent teamers Sampson of Virginia, Mike Gminski of Duke, Kelvin Troy of Rutgers and Tracy Jackson of Paint Branch and Notre Dame.

Ron Valentine of Old Dominion is player of the year, ECAC South Section, with Navy's David Brooks rookie of the year; Andre Gaddy of George Mason among sectional all-stars . . . In the annual all-star hoop series for college seniors in Portsmouth, Va., this week, Nancy Lieberman and Inge Nissen of ODU's national champion women's team were invited to play along with the 64 guys. They declined -- after Valentine, one of the all-stars, grumbled that they would break the concentration as the men showed their wares for NBA scouts . . .

Six men were convicted and six acquitted by a federal jury in Harrisburg, Pa., yesterday on charges stemming from a scheme to fix races, lots of them, at Pocono Downs thoroughbred track in 1974. Three jockeys, two trainers and an associate or admitted fixer-star government witness "Tough Tony" Ciulla were found guilty; cleared were two of Ciulla's alleged associates, two jockeys, a trainer and a horse owner. Sentencing to come in what was only one of a series of trials involving an interstate conspiracy with alleged links to organized crime. Ciulla's testimony has led to convictions of 37 persons in five states. Granted immunity and guarded under a federal witness protection program, he ain't done yet.

The preseason baseball ax falls and goodbye Dracula: Pedro Borbon, veteran of so many big games for Cincy, released by the San Francisco Giants . . . The ranks dwindle: Died in Cleveland, Tex., Les Fleming, who bated .292 in 156 games for the 1942 Cleveland (Ohio) Indians. f