Howard University yesterday continued its efforts to be included in the NCAA Division I-AA football tournament. Attorneys for the school submitted a revised plan for NCAA consideration that proposes Howard and three other teams join the tournament next weekend.

While the university pursued its last-ditch effort, several Howard seniors said they are contemplating a lawsuit of their own against the NCAA for denying them the chance to extend their collegiate football careers.

"Outside the court, several lawyers -- I don't even know who they were -- told us we, the seniors, had a case against the NCAA," said Howard senior defensive tackle Eric Moore. "What they said made sense and we have been thinking about it. Some of the players who have thought about getting professional shots are being denied access to playing top competition and national media access. When everyone gets back next week, we will sit down and seriously talk about it."

The 16-team tournament's eight first-round games were played as scheduled yesterday after U.S. District Court Judge John Garrett Penn refused Friday to grant a temporary restraining order that would have halted the tournament unless Howard was included.

Howard's plan, submitted to NCAA attorneys in Washington yesterday afternoon, calls for the highest-ranked winners from yesterday's games to get a bye next weekend. The four winners with the lowest ranking would be matched against Howard and the three other teams with the highest ranking that did not earn playoff berths.

The proposal calls for quarterfinal games to be played on a Thursday and semifinal games on a Monday so the championship game, which is to be shown on ESPN, will be played on its originally scheduled date.

"We had the feeling we won in court, but because of the late timing of the situation, the judge ruled as he did," said Howard attorney Francis Smith. "I don't know how much chance there is {the NCAA} will consider it, but we are doing it quickly so we don't run into the same time constraints we ran into this week. We hope they will give us an answer by Monday."

Attorney Donald Bucklin, who argued the NCAA's case Friday, said he had Howard's proposal read to him over the telephone and would "discuss it with the client {the NCAA} on Monday. I indicated to the court Friday I would pass on any proposal {to the NCAA}, and that's what we will do. Other than that, I can't comment."

The Bison finished the regular season at 9-1, a better record than any team in the tournament and were ranked 18th in the last Division I-AA poll. Meanwhile, North Texas State, the team that gained the playoffs ahead of Howard, was beaten in the first round yesterday, 30-9, by Northeast Louisiana and finished 7-5.

The university has filed a lawsuit seeking $27 million in damages for antitrust violations and breach of contract concerning the NCAA's selection process. Its suit also contends the NCAA has demonstrated a history of racial discrimination in allocating its tournament berths.

Penn stated sympathy for Howard's plight in issuing his ruling, but based his decision on the harm that would have been done to the 16 tournament teams and their fans who had already made arrangements for yesterday's games.

Penn's ruling left Howard players and coaches feeling their season was over. "We will never be able to recapture the moment regardless of what eventually happens in court," said Howard defensive coordinator Ben Blacknall. "We will never know how good we are."