The University of Maryland, 19-10 last season, will begin this women's basketball season ranked 18th in the nation.

The Associated Press' preseason poll sees Georgia as the top team, with Texas No. 2. Two-time NCAA defending champion Southern California rates fifth.

(Complete poll, Page E11) . . .

Maryland's campus senate -- comprising faculty, students and staff members -- has proposed that college basketball and football players no longer be eligible as freshmen. Chancellor John Slaughter said he would see that the proposal is discussed by the NCAA, but the deadline for proposals to be considered at the January convention has passed.

The University of Southern Mississippi says its own investigation shows the 11 alleged violations cited by the NCAA in the recruiting of high school football star Donald Palmer "are substantially correct."

USM President Aubrey Lucas said the university is freezing the salary and contract of Coach Jim Carmody "at this time" and dismissing assistant coach Jerry Fremin. Carmody's contract expires in January 1987.

Athletic Director Roland Dale also said Palmer was being released from his letter of intent. Palmer has said he wants to attend Mississippi . . .

Florida would be the Sugar Bowl's choice if the Gators and LSU tie for the Southeastern Conference title, and the SEC rules them eligible, bowl president Elliot Laudeman said.