The NCAA Initial Eligibility Subcommittee yesterday issued a waiver to Howard University freshman center Nick Dodson, making him eligible to play this season, according to a source familiar with the situation.

Howard applied for the waiver because the NCAA Clearinghouse, which reviews transcripts of all incoming freshman student-athletes, would not count an English course that Dodson took at Central Adult High School in California in the summer of 1998. Without that course, Dodson did not qualify to compete, practice or receive a scholarship under NCAA rules despite a score of 1,100 (out of a possible 1,600) on the Scholastic Assessment Test and a grade-point average above 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale), sources have said.

Howard Athletic Director Hank Ford hung up the telephone when a reporter identified himself yesterday and other Howard officials could not be reached to comment.

Dodson, a 6-foot-9, 200-pounder who was the sixth man last season for Verbum Dei, a Los Angeles high school power, was one of three highly regarded recruits who missed all of preseason practice while their eligibility was scrutinized.

Donte Lincoln, a 6-6 junior forward from Los Angeles Technical Trade College, and 6-5 forward Darren Kennedy, a transfer from Monmouth, are being withheld while the school conducts an internal investigation concerning its men's and women's basketball teams and its baseball team.

Lincoln's recruitment is a central focus of the internal investigation. He and Dodson were considered likely starters going into the season.

Howard lost its opening game to DePaul, 105-61, a contest that Ali Abdullah, last year's starting point guard, also missed. Howard officials have declined to say why.