Amadou Fall, 25, a sophomore forward for the UDC basketball team, has been declared ineligible by the school to play in 1990-91 because of an NCAA age limit rule, a decision that has left Coach George Leftwich both befuddled and, in his words, "miffed."

"He's the best athlete in the school," Leftwich said of the 6-foot-8, 205-pound Fall. "He's also the best student-athlete. It's a shame he can't play here anymore."

The NCAA age limit rule states that for each year an athlete plays after the 20th birthday an extra year of eligibility is lost. However, the rule applies only to Division I schools. UDC has a Division II basketball program.

Tom Waters, an assistant to the university president who will become interim athletic director after current AD Leo Miles leaves the school next week, told Leftwich of the decision yesterday morning. Waters declined to comment on Fall's eligibility.

An NCAA legislative services official said age limit questions are not handled by the NCAA eligibility committee or the subcommittee on initial eligibility waivers, and that Fall's name did not appear among those recently reviewed concerning their eligibility.

"The school could have just written in and told us about the player," the NCAA official said. "It would then be a straight-up interpretation on our part. Otherwise I really don't know. I'd need to see more information."

Leftwich said Waters told him that the NCAA had made the decision. "I thought {Miles} had called the NCAA," Leftwich said. "He told me {the decision} was final, but wouldn't say much more."

Fall, a biology major with a 4.0 grade point average, was the Firebirds' second-leading scorer (12.5 points per game) and rebounder (7) last season. He is from Senegal. "I wasn't expecting something like this at this time," he said.

He said that he originally wanted to attend a Division I school, but chose UDC thinking there would be no age limit. He said he has not decided whether to remain at UDC or if he will appeal.

The school applied for membership in the Division I Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference in 1989, but was rejected. The Firebirds will play a Division II schedule in 1990-91.