Howard football Coach Willie Jeffries said yesterday that he has decided to remain at the university.

Jeffries said he cancelled an interview arranged for him at South Carolina State, where he had previously coached, and would honor the last two years of his contract with the Bison.

Later yesterday, South Carolina State announced it had named Dennis Thomas, an assistant at Alcorn State, as its new coach.

"I had an interview scheduled for Tuesday and, after thinking about it, I didn't want to waste their time or their money by going down there," Jeffries said. "I've talked it over with my family and we're very happy here at Howard. There's some problems but things are getting better and I'm going to stay here and try to see it through."

One of the problems is Howard's field, dubbed the "AstroDirt Bowl" because of its lack of grass. Construction is well under way on a new facility, which will include an artificial surface.

Jeffries, who came to Howard from Wichita State, was 2-8 his first season with the Bison and 4-7 this past year. . .

Attendance at college football games across the nation declined in 1985 for the first time in 28 years, the NCAA reported yesterday.

A decrease of 340,157 spectators represented a drop of less than 1 percent, but it is the first time that total attendance and per-game average have both been down since the NCAA began keeping attendance records in 1957.

Michigan led in attendance for the 12th straight year with an average of 100,464 fans per game . . .

Fisher DeBerry, who led the Air Force Academy to a 12-1 record and a No. 8 national ranking, was named coach of the year by the American Football Coaches Association.