Jesse Martin, the starting small forward on last season's University of Maryland basketball team, will sit out this season because of academic problems, sources said yesterday.

Martin ran afoul of the university's eligibility requirement of a 1.86 grade-point average (out of a possible 4.0) after the second year. Under university policy, Martin also will be unable to practice.

Maryland officials are treating this as a redshirt season for Martin. Coach Gary Williams said he and Martin had discussed the situation and that "it's in his best interests to study this year. . . . We want him straightened out academically so he will be in position to get a degree and play his final two years."

Martin could not be reached for comment.

The university's standards are tougher than the NCAA criteria for eligibility; Martin would be eligible under NCAA standards.

Martin's situation is the basketball team's only apparent academic problem. Seldom-used sophomore Kevin Chamberlain missed the requirement for first-year players by "thousandths of a point," according to Williams, and is expected to have his eligibility reinstated at an appeal hearing next week.

Last week, the appeals committee reinstated two football players whose GPAs also were thousandths of a point short of the required minimum. One of those players was redshirt freshman Frank Wycheck, who caught a school-record 14 passes in the Terrapin's 20-13 opening-game victory over Virginia Tech.

Martin represents the third potential starter this season who will not be in the program.

Star forward Jerrod Mustaf decided to turn professional and ended up being selected by the New York Knicks in the first round of the National Basketball Association after the NCAA announced a three-year probation against the basketball team, and guard Teyon McCoy decided to transfer to the University of Texas.

With Martin out for the season, former walk-on Vince Broadnax probably will begin practice as the team's starting small forward. Junior college transfer Garfield Smith also will compete for the job. Smith is considered more of an offensive threat than Broadnax.

This comes as the program faces allegations that Williams and his staff organized and conducted practices before the NCAA-mandated starting date last fall. Williams has acknowledged he observed two practices, but has denied all other allegations.

The NCAA Committee on Infractions is expected to decide later this month whether the allegations, and another minor one that involves certification of a walk-on player, will be probed as major or minor violations.

The university acknowedged yesterday it also reported last month a minor violation concerning the issuance of practice gear to two incoming scholarship athletes before they were formally enrolled in school.

"It was a mistake made out of ignorance and not out of intent," said Williams. "I didn't authorize anything like that. We self-reported it. . . . This {violation} happens everywhere in the country."

The violation occurred in July and the report was sent to the Atlantic Coast Conference office, which forwarded it to the NCAA. Williams said the equipment has been returned to him. The players involved now are officially enrolled for the fall semester.

A statement from interim athletic director Suzanne Tyler said the athletes were still considered recruitable athletes until they formally enrolled. She said the equipment included two T-shirts, two pairs of shorts, two pairs of sneakers and a pair of socks.

Tyler said the violation was discovered during a procedural review of the athletic equipment log.

NCAA enforcement officials were unavailable to comment.