The University of Maryland will ask Lefty Driesell, an assistant athletic director and former basketball coach, to clarify his remark that cocaine is "performance enhancing" for some athletes.

"Our reasons are kind of fundamental. We're basically interested in the health of the individual who is taking drugs," said Dr. A.H. (Bud) Edwards, university vice chancellor. "It's a detriment to health. I think that's clear."

Edwards said he was surprised by Driesell's comments and said the university did not share his opinion. He said officials would not reprimand Driesell but would ask him to explain what he meant and his position on drug use by athletes.

Also yesterday, Ohio State basketball coach Gary Williams and a noted sports medical consultant expressed their surprise and disagreement with the remarks, which originally were made by Driesell at a conference at the University of Rhode Island and then elaborated on in an interview that appeared in Tuesday's editions of The Washington Post. Driesell noted that four of the best players in Atlantic Coast Conference history -- John Lucas of Maryland, David Thompson of North Carolina State and Walter Davis and Phil Ford of North Carolina -- were admitted drug abusers.

"Those were four great players," Williams said in Columbus, Ohio, "but they didn't have to have any drug to play like they did in their primes. Every one was torn down by using cocaine."

Dr. Anthony Daly, major league baseball's medical and drug-testing consultant and the medical director of the 1984 Olympic Games, agreed with Williams. "That's unbelievable," Daly said of Driesell's comments.

"The only part {of what he said} that is correct is that people who take cocaine feel good about themselves, but only for a while," Daly said at his office in Los Angeles. "There's a certain euphoria. But that rapidly wears off. It lasts about 20 minutes."