Mark Mulvoy, managing editor of Sports Illustrated magazine, said he spent much of the past year watching some of his star beat writers imparting their knowledge about sports on television. He seethed and, as a result, the conflict-of-interest issue of print journalists also serving as regular television commentators again is called into question.

Mulvoy waited for the college basketball season to end before issuing his edict in early April: You can't cover a beat regularly for Sports Illustrated and also cover the same sport for television or radio. "To me, you can't serve two masters," Mulvoy said yesterday. "Twenty-two million people read the magazine every week and they expect some kind of exclusivity. And to see it elsewhere is a problem. A major problem."

Mulvoy said he could not name one particular incident that provided the impetus to issue the edict. "It hit me as I was watching some television and during the course of the season I would see Ralph Wiley on pro football {NFL Insiders on NBC's pregame show}, Peter Gammons on baseball {ESPN} and Curry Kirkpatrick on college basketball {CBS}. I said to myself, 'Who are they working for, us or them? It can't continue. It doesn't make sense.' "

Wiley and Gammons are severing their full-time status with SI, and will continue to contribute to the magazine on a per-story basis. Mulvoy has given Kirkpatrick, a 25-year SI veteran, that choice as well as an option that would allow him to continue full-time at the magazine but not as a beat writer on college basketball.

Wiley is writing an authorized biography of Georgetown basketball coach John Thompson and is expected to play a role when NBC begins four years of NBA coverage next season. Gammons said through an ESPN spokesman that since he works full-time now for ESPN, Mulvoy's edict doesn't affect him.

Kirkpatrick, reached in Dusseldorf, West Germany, said he has not made a decision about what he will do.

"I don't agree with it, that it's a conflict of interest, especially the things I do with CBS are mainly taped features and not news stories," Kirkpatrick said. "I've been going back and forth on this thing with Mulvoy for three years. I see a point to what they're saying. But if they've had enough trust in me for 25 years, I should be trusted to know what I can say on TV and what I hold for the magazine. It's cast a doubt on my integrity . . . and I'm exercised."

Kirkpatrick also said Mulvoy will allow him to continue a 30-minute news-oriented show he does on Cable News Network during the basketball season, and Mulvoy said staff members can continue to be panelists on sports talk shows.

The influx of print journalists into television began when Will McDonough, the Boston Globe's pro football expert with excellent league-wide contacts, began working on CBS's "The NFL Today." Then came NBC's decision to hire print reporters as "Seoul Searchers" at the 1988 Summer Olympics. Television sports is entertainment first, and the networks obviously do not produce the kind of journalists who seek news stories -- or ask the tough questions.

Mulvoy's decision leaves the Boston Globe and the new National sports daily as the main suppliers of reporting talent to the networks, since policies at the New York Times and Washington Post prohibit such arrangements. Frank Deford, the National's editor-in-chief, encourages his staff to appear on television; Don Skwar, the Globe's executive sports editor, said his newspaper has no formal policy. "There's nothing etched in stone," he said. "We're thinking about putting something together."

Skwar said his own philosophy is to let his beat writers also do radio and television as long as those appearances do not conflict with Globe assignments and the reporter doesn't scoop the newspaper on a story. "If our baseball writer talked about when {Roger} Clemens is pitching again, I'd have no problem," he said. "But, if he said the Red Sox are going to announce a trade in the in the next 24 hours, and I haven't seen it in the paper, then I've got a problem." More Baseball on TV?

Neal Pilson, president of CBS Sports, declined to comment yesterday when asked to respond to Baseball Commissioner Fay Vincent's statement this week he would like to negotiate with the network for additional Saturday afternoon games during the final three years of the network's $1.06 billion contract.

"I'm not going to comment on that one way or the other until I talk to the commissioner, and he's been traveling the last 10 days and I haven't talked to him," Pilson said. But Pilson said that, even if it adds no games, CBS "is likely" to change the dates of its telecasts to fill the spring void left by the NBA's move to NBC.

Vincent's public statements about trying to resume a Saturday game of the week on network television came shortly after Vincent had to defend the lack of one during a Congressional hearing and a few days after Bryan Burns, the architect of the contract that blacked out most of non-cable America on 11 Saturday afternoons this season, left the commssioner's office for a job here with Comsat Video International.

Several sources said Burns was fired, primarily because he negotiated that contract for which Vincent is now taking the heat and in general because of a housecleaning of former commissioner Peter Ueberroth's staff. Under Ueberroth, Burns was considered the de facto commissioner, but has seen his power diminish, first under Bart Giamatti, who brought in Vincent, and then under Vincent to a point at which he "was doing menial things." But he was not fired, a source close to Vincent said.