Bill Foster, who was named head basketball coach at Northwestern University yesterday, says he is confident he can lead the Wildcats to a winning season.

"I think I'm capable of winning or I wouldn't be here. I have not set any goals as far as wins and losses," he said at a news conference, adding: "The sooner, the better."

Foster, 55, has had 20-win seasons at four Division I schools. He is 413-268 in 26 seasons. He left South Carolina after going 12-16 in the Metro Conference last season.

Last season, Northwestern was 8-20 overall and finished in the Big Ten cellar (2-16) for the second straight year.

Rich Falk was fired March 14 after eight seasons with a record of 76-146 overall, 30-114 in conference play . . .

Louisiana State, whose basketball team overcame a chicken pox epidemic to reach the Final Four, now is fighting meningitis on its top-ranked, 29-3 baseball team. Wayne Stofsky, an 18-year-old freshman reserve infielder from Pembroke Pines, Fla., has been quarantined with highly contagious meningitis.

Players, trainers, coaches and batgirls have been given preventative medicine, school officials said. WRESTLING

Jeff Blatnick, who tearfully exclaimed, "I'm one happy dude" after overcoming Hodgkin's disease to win an Olympic wrestling gold medal in 1984, said he is again battling cancer. Blatnick, 28, said he underwent chemotherapy from last September to February after a biopsy showed a growth near his groin was cancerous.

"I took the whole thing as a challenge," he said. "That's all cancer is -- it's just another adjustment in my life." BASEBALL

The players' union filed a grievance earlier this week challenging penalties imposed by Commissioner Peter Ueberroth on 21 players who were linked to drug use, said Don Fehr, executive director of the Major League Players Association.

None of the players involved elected to fight the commissioner's ruling, which for all 21 meant agreeing to random drug testing, and for 11 also meant giving money and time to drug-abuse programs. Fehr said, however, that the union "obviously has the right to file a grievance in its own name with respect to certain things."

Atlanta Braves General Manager Bobby Cox said the Toronto Blue Jays' complaint to Ueberroth's office that the Braves leaked a story to hasten Cox's departure as manager is unfounded. The Atlanta Constitution story, published Oct. 1 while the Blue Jays were competing in the American League playoffs, said Braves owner Ted Turner wanted Cox to head a reorganization effort by becoming general manager.

Cox said Atlanta did not contact him until after the season and he viewed the newspaper story as speculation and rumor. BOXING

Jemal Hinton, 16, of New Carrollton, Md., beat Kevin Kelley, 3-2, to reach the 119-pound class final of the U.S. amateur championships in Beaumont, Tex. He will meet defending champion Michael Collins of LaPorte, Tex., who scored a 4-1 decision over Bernard Price.

"I'm just going to keep my hands up and go right at him Collins ," Hinton said. "He has quick hands, so I'll have to slow him down with body shots." HORSE RACING

Caroline Beasley made British horse racing history for the second time when she became the first female jockey to win a race over Liverpool's Grand National course. On the same Aintree course to be used for today's Grand National steeplechase, Beasley rode Eliogarty to victory in the 2 3/4-mile R.E.A. Bott Foxhunters' Chase. In 1983, she became the first woman to ride a winner -- again Eliogarty -- at the prestigious Cheltenham Festival. ? FOOTBALL

William (The Refrigerator) Perry has signed a waiver releasing the Chicago Bears from contract obligations if he suffers a career-ending injury in a professional wrestling extravaganza Monday, the team said. But the agent for Atlanta's Bill Fralic said his client will not sign a similar document for the Falcons. Perry and Fralic are among five NFL players competing in Wrestlemania II, a 20-man free-for-all match in Rosemont, Ill. LOCALLY

Ken Rosewall, Roy Emerson, Kerry Melville Reid, Virginia Wade and Fred Stolle will play in the E.F. Hutton Champions Tennis Series at George Washington's Smith Center beginning April 11 at 7 p.m. The tournament continues through April 14 and includes men's and women's singles and men's, women's and mixed doubles.