The leader of the Texas House of Representatives vowed yesterday to use his political power to keep the University of Texas and Texas A&M University from leaving the Southwest Conference, defections other schools say would destroy the 76-year-old league.

House Speaker Gib Lewis (D-Fort Worth) said he would go so far as to slash state legislative appropriations to the two schools, both public institutions.

Lewis, who attended Texas Christian, a private SWC school in Fort Worth that could be hurt financially by a pullout of Texas A&M and Texas, said he would "do everything in my power to prevent" the two universities from jumping to another conference.

For the 1991 fiscal year, the legislature appropriated $233 million for Texas and $183 million for A&M -- none of it for athletics.

After Arkansas, the only non-Texas member of the nine-school SWC, announced it would move to the Southeastern Conference, widespread speculation began that Texas A&M and Texas would join either the SEC or the Pacific-10.

The SEC is considering the possibility of inviting the University of Houston to join its conference if Texas and Texas A&M join the Pac-10, the Houston Post reported.

An SEC official, who requested anonymity, said Houston "would be approached about joining {the SEC} if Texas and Texas A&M are admitted to the Pac-10," the newspaper reported Thursday. . . .

The Metro Conference is proposing an expansion to 16 teams. The teams would be placed in four regional divisions to allow flexibility in the league's football schedule.

The plan would double the size of the conference with the addition of Miami, Boston College, Rutgers, Temple, Syracuse, East Carolina, West Virginia and Pittsburgh. . . .

Three more names have been added to the list of prospective Maryland athletic directors: Oval Jaynes of Colorado State, Charles Harris of Arizona State and Corey Johnson of California State at Long Beach, all ADs at their respective schools.