Only 23 percent of all athletes with full scholarships at North Carolina State and only 48 percent at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill graduated, according to a report issued yesterday that studied athletes enrolling at those campuses from the fall of 1978 to the fall of 1981.

The report of the special committee on intercollegiate athletics of the statewide university system's board of governors offers a rare glimpse of statistical data involving graduation rates, college board scores and academic profiles of incoming freshman athletes.

The report showed that the graduation rate for full-scholarship athletes in North Carolina public universities is "much lower than the general student bodies" at all Division I schools in the state that play football and basketball, except Appalachian State, where it is comparable. Although N.C. State's graduation rate for full-scholarship athletes is half that at Chapel Hill, it is only 12 percent lower than the general student rate at State, while UNC-Chapel Hill's is 27 percent lower than its general student level.

"There is one final observation about graduation rates the committee feels is important to make. Regular college students (non-athletes) who do not graduate often drop out after their freshman or sophomore years," the committee concluded. "Highly recruited athletes who fail to receive their baccalaureate degrees in many instances play out their full four years of athletic eligiblity. This points to the crucial issue of student-athlete 'exploitation.' "

Forty-two percent of the athletes at North Carolina State and 41 percent at Chapel Hill scored below a combined 700 on the Scholastic Aptitude Test; 15 percent at Chapel Hill and six percent at N.C. State scored below 600. Of all freshmen, only two percent at State and one percent at Chapel Hill scored under 700.

As of Aug. 1, the NCAA will require a 700 SAT score and a 2.0 grade-point average in a core curriculum of 11 academic courses under Rule 48. The rule might be modified to allow a slighty higher grade-point average to offset a slightly lower SAT score, and vice versa. The North Carolina committee endorsed Rule 48 as it now stands.

The committee said too many exceptions to minimum admission standards were being granted for athletes. Of an average of 90 exceptions yearly at N.C. State, 28 -- or 31 percent -- were for athletes, including an average of 14 in basketball and football. At Chapel Hill, an average of 15 football players and two basketball players annually were exceptions.

Although the committee concluded that the athletic programs in its system "provide many students with an opportunity to earn an education of high quality . . . we have, however, identified many instances of serious problems in these programs, some of which could lead to gross abuses unless they are more effectively monitored and controlled."

To this end, the committee recommended that annual reports be submitted by chancellors at each campus, that academic tutoring be supervised by academic personnel, that athletes not live in special housing and that exceptions be cut back.

It also recommended reductions in football practice time, shortening of sports seasons, lower limits on the number of scholarships granted annually and a limitation on recruiting to high school athletes' junior and senior years.