In the second year of Proposition 48, far fewer athletes are failing. The NCAA says it's because recruits are getting smarter; coaches say it's partly because they are getting smarter about recruiting.

An Associated Press survey of all 291 Division I schools found that in 1987, 33.7 percent fewer athletes than last year are ineligible for football and basketball under new academic standards. And in some cases, the freshman class of '87 includes fewer blacks because college coaches are afraid to recruit them.

"We don't have as many minorities in this incoming freshman class," Oregon football coach Richard Brooks said. "Part of it is that the university and I don't want to be embarrassed by signing a whole bunch of guys that appear to have {no chance of ever earning degrees}, whether they're white or black."

Last year, Oregon signed 23 freshman football players. Twelve were black and four of those were "Prop 48s," who could not play until improving their academic status. This year, Brooks signed 22 new players. None is black.

According to the Center for the Study of Sports in Society at Northeastern University, surveys show that blacks comprised more than 85 percent of all students declared ineligible for football under Proposition 48 in 1986.

AP's survey, not broken down by race, showed 561 Division I football and basketball recruits ineligible under the rule in 1986, compared with 372 this year. In football, the 1987 number was 270, down 32.7 percent. The 1987 basketball casualties number 102, down 36.3 percent.

Proposition 48 requires that potential Division I athletes earn a minimum score on entrance exams based on their high school grade-point average in 11 mandatory subjects. If a student has a C average, he must score 700 on the Scholastic Aptitude Test or 15 on the American College Test to be eligible. The higher the grade point, the lower the required test score.

Ineligible students may neither play nor practice with their teams and, if they accept a scholarship, they lose a year of eligibility.