Almost half of the University of Maryland's men's varsity basketball and football players, including 10 of 14 basketball players, had D averages or lower for the fall semester of the 1985-86 academic year, according to statistics compiled by the athletic department.

The data, compiled by academic counselor Jacqueline Reed, shows a significant contrast in performance between the athletes in the university's two revenue-producing sports and its other 20 varsity teams. A total of 63 of 140 football and basketball players had D averages or lower; the 386 other athletes produced 77 D averages or lower.

In the survey, the most extensive compilation of academic performance in athletic department history, any grade below 2.0 on a 4.0 scale is considered a D by the university.

The overall grades of the football team were significantly higher than basketball.

Fifteen football players and one basketball player had at least a B average for the fall semester, and 22 football players and one basketball player had a high C average (2.50-2.99). But only three football players and one basketball player had a cumulative B average, and nearly 40 percent of the players on those teams had a cumulative D average or lower, including eight of 14 basketball players and 45 of 126 football players.

Of the basketball players with a cumulative average below 2.0, only one was academically dismissed. Of the football players below 2.0, 17 were academically dismissed.

Of the other 386 athletes, 121 had at least a B average for the semester and 88 had at least a cumulative B average.

The fall semester tends to be the worst for basketball and football players, according to their academic counselors, and grade-point averages show improvement through the spring semester and two sessions of summer school. Failed courses that are repeated and passed do not count in compiling year-ending grade-point averages at Maryland, which are not issued until after summer school.

The football team had only two days to take regularly scheduled finals last fall because of a trip to the Cherry Bowl in Pontiac, Mich. As a result, some players had to take their tests almost a week early.

The survey and report, obtained yesterday by The Washington Post, has been distributed to members of a task force subcommittee studying the academic support unit for athletes.

"This report is the outgrowth of my belief that we need accurate and complete data if we are to provide a coordinated athletic academic support program that positively impacts on student-athletes' performance," wrote Reed, who declined comment yesterday.