Bob Paul, director of public information for the United States Olympic Committee, returned home to Colorado Springs today after quitting as coordinator of media requests for interviews with U.S. athletes in the Pan American Games.

While other USOC staff members were prominent at social functions here, Paul, 66, stayed in the athletes' village at suburban Guarenas, manning the phones and trying to stem a tide of criticism of the USOC.

Paul worked all night Saturday, completing his second 24-hour cycle in four days, and then suddenly packed and left at 11 a.m. Sunday.

Paul had appeared ill to reporters who visited the village Friday. He said by telephone today: "You should have seen me 24 hours later. I thought I was going to crack up. I just walked out. I was overworked." He said his departure did not affect his job as USOC public information director.

Paul told several persons that he was going home, but one of them, USOC Operations Director Jerry Lace, said he did not think Paul was serious. The USOC instituted a search for Paul that lasted 22 hours.

Paul took a taxi to the airport Sunday, spent the night at a Miami hotel and flew to Denver today.