The NCAA yesterday rejected the University of Maryland's appeal to reduce the three-year probation and other sanctions imposed on the institution's men's basketball program for violations that occurred mainly during the three-year regime of former coach Bob Wade.

"Basically, the rationale . . . was that the sanctions imposed seemed to the council to be consistent with the {tougher} policies adopted by the membership {at a special convention in 1985} for enforcement of infractions cases," NCAA President Al Witte of Arkansas said at the conclusion of a three-day NCAA Council meeting in Monterey, Calif.

William E. Kirwan, president of the College Park campus, acknowledged the appeal was "an uphill struggle" and said the university has decided not to pursue any action against the NCAA in the courts.

"I had considered it, but I believe we need to get this behind us and go on," Kirwan said. "This thing could drag on {in the courts} for a long time. The institution is better served by putting this behind us and getting on with the building of our program."

In a report released yesterday, giving its rationale for the punishment imposed, the NCAA Committee on Infractions contended the degree of the violation admitted to by the university in the selling of complimentary tickets to the 1987 and 1988 Atlantic Coast Conference tournaments was sufficient in itself to warrant the punishment imposed.

The infractions committee, which originally imposed the sanctions, also said that overturning its decision by granting Maryland's appeal would open the floodgates for other appeals. Maryland is the third school in 44 infractions cases since the new rules were adopted to appeal -- and to lose.

"It's got to discourage people from appealing, which is probably what they want," said John Anderson, assistant attorney general in charge of the education division and a participant in the appeal.

The committee on infractions concluded "the violations were serious, widespread, directly involved a number of coaches and staff associated with the program, including the head basketball coach, and provided significant competitive advantage to the university's basketball program."

It also dismissed Maryland's call for reduced penalties based on its cooperation and no previous major violations as getting "limited weight" because "they did not significantly exceed the basic obligations of all NCAA members to cooperatively investigate violations and take corrective action to achieve compliance."

Maryland's appeal, which focused on procedural issues and due process, was made during a 70-minute hearing Wednesday before the Division I steering committee, composed of the 22 Division I members of the NCAA Council. As a result of the decision, Maryland's three-year probation began yesterday and will conclude Aug. 3, 1993.

Sanctions include a two-year ban on postseason play and a ban on live television appearances this season. As a result of the television ban, Maryland will be excluded from this season's conference tournament. The sanctions are expected to produce a $2.7 million shortfall in athletic department revenues this fiscal year.

It remained unclear last night whether that building would include junior point guard Walt Williams, who has been considering a transfer. With two years of sanctions now set, Williams can transfer to another school and be eligible to play immediately, instead of having to sit out a year, as NCAA rules normally require.

The university issued a statement from Williams saying: "It will be a couple of weeks before I'm ready to make a decision . . . I feel there is time for me to look closely at options open to me."

Gary Williams, who replaced Wade in June 1989 as the school's head coach, said he was prepared for the decision and that the worst is behind him, especially in recruiting.

"As the summer went on, I tried to steel myself that we weren't going to get any relief," he said in a telephone interview. "I didn't want to get my expectations high. So, I'm disappointed but not surprised . . . The toughest thing was recruiting this year because the players wouldn't be in postseason play for two years."

Of Walt Williams, the coach said: "Walt's situation is unique. Very few players you coach are considered sure pro players. And he proved last season his position is point guard.

"He knows at Maryland he'll get as many minutes as he can get at point guard. Transferring means being recruited again, and he knows how promises are made in recruiting and not fulfilled.

"I've coached several first-round draft choices. I know how to get them ready for the NBA, and I hope that's enough for Walt to see and good enough for him {to stay}."

Maryland based its appeal on four arguments, according to its reply to the extended infractions report released yesterday as well. The university contended it did not receive advance notice of the additional seven institutional control charges for which it had been penalized, contrary to the NCAA bylaws, and therefore had no chance to investigate, prepare a repsonse or bring other university officials to the infractions hearing.

Maryland contended the committee found it guilty of violating the principles of institutional control based solely on the school admitting a violation or, in one case, its management of a petty cash fund, even though no violation was found to have been committed.

The committee contended that under the NCAA bylaws it could add violations of institutional control because the issue was included in the letter of official inquiry concerning ticket scalping.

Maryland contended the bylaw it cited and the bylaw cited by the infractions committee contradict each other. Kirwan said he considered yesterday's decision arbitrary "and it's a matter I will raise with the NCAA . . . There's a very significant procedural issue that the NCAA must clarify."

Later in the day, Rep. Tom McMillen (D-Md.), a basketball star and Rhodes Scholar at the school in the early 1970s, said the Maryland appeal represents "a mockery of due process" by the NCAA and said, "I think the NCAA needs a complete investigation up and down the ladder."

He was one of 31 co-sponsors of a bill introduced yesterday by Rep. James H. Bilbray (D-Nev.) to guarantee due process in NCAA cases.

The university argued the committee on infractions "has failed to find facts sufficient to constitute a violation of institutional control issues." It also contended that three weeks prior to the infractions hearing, NCAA enforcement chief David Berst told Maryland "this is not an institutional control case."

The infractions committee cited an NCAA bylaw that says no relief can be given a school on appeal unless the university shows the punishment is "clearly contrary to the evidence" provided the committee.

Kirwan said he was particularly disturbed by this ruling because neither the NCAA enforcement staff nor two NCAA auditors found institutional control problems over the past three years. "There's certainly a conflict there between the conclusions the NCAA enforcement staff found after an intense investigation compared to what the NCAA infractions committee found after several hours of discussions. And I find that disturbing."

Maryland contended the unethical behavior of Wade, who was found to have given false and misleading statements to investigators and attempting a coverup, should not count toward Maryland's penalty, especially when the university and Wade were in adversarial positions during the investigation. The infractions committee cited NCAA Manual language that says an institution is responsible for the actions of its staff members.

Maryland contended the penalties imposed are too harsh. The infractions committee said the violation involving the ACC tournament tickets sales was the most serious ticket-scalping basketball case since the rules were toughened in 1985 because staff members were involved and players received as much as $1,000 for their four complimentary admissions. It was revealed players with eligibility remaining had to pay the university $800 each before eligibility was restored.

The committee also argued that the violations involving the wiring of cash to Rudy Archer, providing him with numerous rides, Wade providing Christmas gifts to players and recruits obtaining souvenirs at a College Park shop all constituted "very serious" violations due to the involvement of Wade and other staff members in them.

Kirwan also said the infractions committee should not have included the still-pending case of two self-reported violations, one involving a minor eligibility issue, the other that Gary Williams and members of his staff admitted they observed pickup games before the start of practice Oct. 15.

Special correspondent Mary Barker in Monterey, Calif., contributed to this report.