A number of Howard University football players expressed strong support yesterday for their former team-mates, Ivan Thompson and Ricky Tripplet, who were dismissed from the team earlier in the week by Bison Coach Floyd Keith.

"Everything they told the press was true," said one of several players interviewed by The Washington Post, none of whom wanted to be identified for fear of being kicked off the team.

"There have been several players in the past who've had the same thing happen to them," said another. "This kind of stuff seems to be becoming commonplace."

In recent weeks, The Post has tried repeatedly to interview Howard President James Cheek about the school's athletic problems. Cheek, so far, has declined to answer reporters' phone calls.

In a "show of solidarity," the football team held a meeting Wednesday after the players became aware that Thompson, a nonscholarship starting tailback, had been dismissed from the squad late Tuesday afternoon. Following the meeting, a shortened practice was held. Thompson had complained to The Post a week ago about playing without sufficient food for days at a time this season.

Keith said Thompson would be dropped from the team unless he apologized publicly to him, the team and the university. But Keith denied Thompson's statement that the coach had pushed and shoved him outside the locker room Tuesday afternoon.

"There's no reason for Ike (Thompson's nickname) to have to apologize to anyone about what he said," said a third player.

"What they said was the truth," said another, "and it may not be the last time this happens around here."

Several players also supported Thompson's assertion that, "Keith doesn't like for players to stand up for what they believe and be a man."

"He doesn't believe in players speaking what's on their minds," said one.

Thompson and Tripplet expressed gratitude for the support they have received from teammates, alumni and others in the community.