It was on the schedule: Maryland versus UCLA in October 1985 in the Los Angeles Coliseum. A chance for the Terrapin football team to gain national recognition.

There will be no game. It has been canceled.

The reason: money. "We just can't afford the travel expense in this day and age," Maryland Athletic Director Jim Kehoe said when he announced the cancellation. "You're going to see more and more of this in college sports. Teams just can't afford to fly cross-country anymore. You're going to see more and more teams playing close to home, busing to games. There's just no way to keep up with the inflation."

The 1980s, it appears, will be the decade of retrenchment in college athletics. For years, the games have grown out of control: more teams, more scholarships, more travel, more television, more money.

But with inflation and women's sports becoming more significant -- and expensive -- with each passing year, cutbacks are beginning all over the country. In Washington, Catholic has abandoned its half-hearted attempt at participation in Division I and gone back to Division III.

Villanova, near Philadelphia, has abandoned football. Other schools have discussed the possibility.

"I think in the future you're going to see more and more schools operating the way we do," said Frank Rienzo, Georgetown athletic director. "Go with fewer sports and try to make each varsity team of high quality. I doubt if you'll see many schools increasing its number of teams."

What you will see, in all likelihood, will be more games, especially in the nonrevenue sports, between local schools. Schedules will be regionalized in football and basketball. Maryland is trying to schedule regularly teams like Pittsburgh and West Virginia while canceling games like the one with UCLA.

Basketball is less likely to be affected by increased travel costs because transporting 12 players is a lot easier than 60 and because, most of the time, at least part of the cost of a long trip will be defrayed by television money.

"I don't think we'll be affected all that much," said Lefty Driesell, Maryland basketball coach. "Sure, expenses are way up but look at how much more money we make every year off of television and from the NCAA tournament.As long as the profits keep up with with expenses, we'll be all right."

Schools like Maryland probably will be all right because they have money coming in steadily, although Kehoe has hinted in the last year that at some point the school may have to eliminate several of its 23 varsity sports.

"I hope it doesn't come to that, ever," Kehoe said. "But when you're facing double-digit inflation, you have to consider all the possibilities." Kehoe is retiring and his successor, Dick Dull, will have to consider those possibilities.

More likely to be affected are the smaller schools. Catholic's decision to give up on Division I is a prime example of that.

"It's a vicious circle," said Jack Kvancz, Catholic basketball coach and athletic director. "On the one hand, you need the publicity you can get from a Division I team in order to make money. On the other hand, you need money to properly run a division program. Where do you start? How do you start?"

One thing is certain -- women's sports will play a more important role in the '80s. With the NCAA having voted to hold women's championships beginning next year, more schools will be spending money to try to pick up NCAA titles. That may mean less money for men's nonrevenue sports.

"There are going to be changes, no doubt about it," Rienzo said. "Obviously the amount of money that will be spent on women's sports will vary from school to school. But they are going to play a major role in the next 10 years."

Retrenchment is clearly the wave of the future. No new gyms are planned, budgets are being cut, travel curtailed. The day may even come when Maryland and Navy end their football feud and begin playing each other again if only because both schools need a game without travel costs and with profit potential.

"Those are the kinds of games everyone is going to have to try to play in the future," Kehoe said. "It's the only way to go."

Only Driesell isn't worried. "No, I ain't worried about the future," he said. "We'll do just fine. As long as you win games, you'll do just fine."

That certainly has been true in the past. Whether it remains true during the '80s is yet to be seen. One thing is certain: as with all businesses, costs will be passed on -- ticket prices are guaranteed to go up in the near future. Whether people will pay those prices, even for a winner, no one knows.