and Kenyans and West Germans and others -- who forsook the 1980 Moscow Olympics will get their chance to show what might have been, and more, in the third biennial World Cup track and field meet opening today in Rome. If Edwin Moses somehow fails to win the 400-meter hurdles, blame it on a thigh strain he has been nursing, and if Carl Lewis doesn't rule the long jump, while also sprinting 100 and 200 meters, note that he strained a hamstring in training two weeks ago.

The World Cup is conducted on a team basis, with lineups representing Africa, America, Asia, Oceania, East Germany, Europe select, host nation Italy, the Soviet Union and United States. Europe is sure to pile up points with Sebastian Coe and Steve Ovett, who once again eschew going head-to-head; Coe will run the 800, Ovett the 1,500. * * * *

The International Amateur Athletic Federation council, meeting in Rome, yesterday rejected the appeal by Ben Plucknett of his ban, and erasure of his world-record discus fling in July, for having used anabolic steroids at the Pacific Games in New Zealand in February . . .

Gov. John Y. Brown's alma mater, Kentucky, plays Phyllis George Brown's old school, North Texas State, in a football opener Saturday in Lexington. Would the first lady wear UK blue or NTS green to Commonwealth Stadium? Would the gov boo Wildcat Coach Fran Curci, whom he'd liked to have seen ditched in favor of George Allen? No problem. The Browns are off on a European vacation, planning to return just in time for Phyllis' appearance on CBS-TV's NFL Today program Sunday . . . On which the network makes a bit of amends for scheduling zero national appearances for the Redskins -- Jimmy the Greek's pick as NFL's most improved team -- by airing an Irv Cross-narrated segment on the new look of the national capital's favorite football team . . .

Roberto Duran's next comeback step: Sept. 26, Las Vegas, 10 rounds versus Luigi Minchillo, European junior middleweight champ . . . Carl Sell, a Fairfax County Planning Commission member and former Washington Star sports staffer more recently assistant news editor, comes back from the paper's demise to take over as George Mason U. director of sports information . . . A couple of old Washington Senators currently guiding the Texas Rangers, Manager Don Zimmer and V.P. Eddie Robinson, will come back for more with fresh renewals through 1983 season for Zim and '84 for Robinson . . .

Georgetown won't play fall baseball this year; campus construction . . .

The Center for Athletes Rights and Education has come upon the scene, with advice for the young and ambitious: "If you allow a college to pay for your services by just training you for the pros, then you are letting them rip you off. To put it bluntly, an athletic grant-in-aid without a college degree is a big hustle and you are the one being hustled."

Formation of the center was announced in New York yesterday. It has a three-year, $25,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education and sponsorship by the NFL Players Association, National Conference of Black Lawyers and a nonprofit organization based in the south Bronx called Sports for the People.

The National Education Association and other groups will distribute pamphlets. NFL player representatives will visit high schools. A 24-hour hotline for athletes is planned . . .* * * *

A. New Duke in the bigs: Twice in the Minnesota Twin box scores this week with relief stints versus Yankees), Jack Hobbs, 7-10 for Alexandria's 1980 Carolina Leaguers.