The University of Maryland's 19-month travail with the first major NCAA infractions case in its history will come to a conclusion this week. Starting today, the university will appeal the severity of its sanctions to the Division I steering committee in Monterey, Calif.

The appeal, with campus president William E. Kirwan and assistant attorney general John Anderson making the prescribed 20-minute oral presentation, comes on the opening day of a three-day NCAA Council meeting devoted mainly to reforms to be considered at the 1991 NCAA convention.

A decision on the appeal -- no school has been successful since the membership adopted more stringent penalties in 1985 -- is expected to be announced Friday afternoon. Kirwan, who was traveling yesterday and was unavailable for comment, said recently Maryland has "a strong case" but, citing precedent, said it's hard to be confident of a reversal because "the track record would suggest it's not easy to win an appeal."

Kirwan has declined to discuss Maryland's strategy for the appeal. On March 5, the Committee on Infractions announced the Maryland basketball program had committed 27 violations of NCAA rules in 13 categories, mainly during the three-year tenure of former coach Bob Wade. He was forced to resign in May 1989.

The school proposed a two-year probation, including sanctions of a one-year ban from post-season play, a $470,000 reimbursement of Maryland's share of 1988 NCAA basketball tournament revenues and the loss of two scholarships. But the NCAA also imposed a second-year of no postseason play, a one-season ban on live television appearances and three years' probation.

The postseason and live television bans this season could cost Maryland about a $2.7 million revenue shortfall in the current fiscal year and a $3.6 million shortfall over the two years. Kirwan would not rank the importance of getting any sanction reduced, but said even reducing the probation from three years to two would be "symbolic" in removing the stigma attached to it.

In its report, the infractions committee listed eight counts of lack of institutional control as the most severe infractions committed by Maryland. The official letter of inquiry cited only one area involving institutional control, in the handling of complimentary tickets for the 1988 ACC basketball tournament.

Kirwan hinted that the additional institutional control issues will be a focus of the appeal because Maryland cooperated fully in the NCAA investigation but was not aware of the additional violations of institutional control. Other than the ticket issue, "the institutional control was one item we were never officially charged with," Kirwan said.

An NCAA enforcement official said additional institutional control issues frequently are included in the final report even though they are not cited in the official letter of inquiry.

Mike Slive, a Chicago lawyer whose firm represents some athletic departments but has not been involved in the Maryland case, compared Maryland to other recent cases in which the individual violations were more severe, and said institutional control was the key.

"There seems to be greater concern and emphasis {by the infractions committee} on whether there are strong institutional control mechanisms in place rather than trying to control those things no one can control," Slive said recently.

Kirwan cited Maryland's cooperation with the NCAA investigation, its actions in forcing Wade and members of his staff to resign and the university's clean prior record as reasons why he feels the sanctions are too harsh.

This is the final stage in a process that started in February 1989. At that time, Wade, on the eve of publication of a story charging him and members of his staff with providing improper rides to former Terrapins guard Rudy Archer, notified the NCAA and the ACC that members of his staff had done this. Archer, who flunked out of Maryland before the 1988-89 season, was regarded by the NCAA as a recruitable prospect because he had a year's eligibility remaining.

In the course of its investigation, the NCAA charged Wade with giving misleading or false statements to university and NCAA investigators and with attempting to concoct a story to cover up his involvement.