American University baseball Coach Dee Frady has decided to take a one-year leave of absence with pay, the school's athletic director said yesterday.

In a team meeting Monday, Frady told his players the university was considering dropping or suspending the program, according to players who were present. Athletic Director Bob Frailey yesterday declined to comment on that possibility but said: "That's a whole different subject. There will be more on that in a couple of weeks after I meet with my superiors."

The university has been investigating alleged procedural violations involving financial aid for baseball players. AU Provost Milton Greenberg is heading the investigation but was not available to comment yesterday.

Frailey has declined to discuss specifics but said yesterday the investigation is not the reason Frady is leaving. Frailey said Frady, who has a 405-443-6 record in 23 years at AU and was 14-51-1 the last two seasons, is "very interested" in pursuing another profession. "I can't tell you what; it's his business," Frailey said.

Frady declined to comment yesterday.

According to players who were at Monday's team meeting, Frady said the school is considering several options, ranging from dropping the program to upgrading it.

"Nobody thought that they were thinking of dropping the program," said sophomore pitcher Dan Pill. "That's detrimental to a lot of players because they depend on the scholarship money."

Senior catcher Tony Pinto, AU's most valuable player this season, said he thought the chances of the school keeping the sport were "slim to none." Junior pitcher Richard Woodcock said, "The impression I got from Frady was that they are going to drop the program."

The reaction to Frady's announcement varied among players. Freshman first baseman Tom Morris said he plans to transfer. Woodcock said he would stay at AU, even if there is no program because he is close to graduation.

Junior pitcher Tim McDowell, a professional prospect, said he wanted to stay at AU but would be forced to leave if the program is dropped. Pill said he was thinking about transferring for reasons other than baseball, but Frady's comments at the meeting "could put the icing on the cake."

The program has been struggling the past few years. Frady has one part-time assistant coach and can give only partial scholarships. AU is the only Division I school in the area that didn't make a trip south this spring.

"He's been here 23 years . . . and he hasn't had much support those years," said McDowell. "He may have been wanting to get out, too."