Ohio State football coach Earle Bruce, fired last week by university President Edward Jennings, has filed a $7.44 million suit against the university and Jennings, according to reports by radio station WTVN and television station WSYX yesterday.

The suit, filed Friday in Franklin County Common Pleas Court by attorney John Zonak, charged Bruce was wrongfully dismissed and was slandered by Jennings.

"When you're hit hard, as a football coach, it hurts," Bruce said last night. "But that doesn't mean you can't hit back."

Jennings told The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer after Ohio State's 23-20 win over Michigan yesterday he was unaware of the suit.

The suit asks for $448,800 in actual damages and other monetary losses, $2 million for violating Bruce's due process rights and $5 million compensatory and punitive damages from Jennings, Zonak said.

The suit states that "Jennings . . . as part of a scheme with premeditation and malice, and in bad faith made false and untrue statements about the plaintiff . . . made slanderous and libelous untrue statements to others regarding the good reputation of the plaintiff." . . .

Catholic's Kevin Morrison had 22 points and 11 rebounds and Ken Wills had 17 points and two three-pointers, but the Cardinals lost to Frostburg State, 85-73 in the consolation game of the Bobcat Classic basketball tournament at Frostburg . . .

Gallaudet made up ground after trailing, 43-19, at intermission, but fell short against Spring Garden, 74-69, in the consolation game of the White Rose City Classic at York (Pa.) . . .

Middle Tennessee State guard Chris Rainey scored 31 points in an 88-85 victory over visiting Virginia Tech in the first round of the Big Apple National Invitation Tournament. Hokies guard Vernell Coles scored 30 points but missed a three-point effort that would have sent the game into overtime . . .

Mount St. Mary's junior Charles Cheruiyot won the NCAA Division II cross country championship in Evansville, Ind., running 30:42, and his teammate, sophomore Peter Rono, finished second in 30:43 . . .

North Carolina State defeated Virginia, 15-12, 15-12, 15-10, in the semifinals of the Atlantic Coast Conference women's volleyball tournament in Clemson, S.C. North Carolina played Duke in a later semifinal . . .

Doug Gould, sports information director at George Washington since 1969, has resigned for health reasons. His duties will be taken over by Rob Goodman on an interim basis.