The NCAA has asked Howard University to investigate three alleged NCAA rules violations in its women's basketball program, according to a letter sent to the school last month. One of the allegations is that Coach Sanya Tyler provided cash to pay the expenses of a recruit making an unofficial visit to the school.

Sources said in October that the university had begun an investigation of alleged rules violations in the program. The letter from the NCAA, which revealed specific allegations, is typical of informational correspondence between the NCAA and its member schools when the NCAA's enforcement staff receives allegations -- signed or anonymous -- of rules violations.

It is not a formal letter of inquiry, which would mean the program is under investigation by the NCAA. Thomas Hosty, an NCAA director of enforcement services, simply asked Howard officials to review the matter and report to the NCAA's enforcement staff.

In his letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post, Hosty said his office had received specific allegations that:

Terri Holmes, now a junior forward, practiced with the team during the 1996-97 season and traveled to games, including those at the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament, and was given meal money before she gained eligibility through the NCAA Clearinghouse.

Mona-Gail Baker, now a junior who starts for the Bison, was given expense money by several players during an unofficial visit to Howard in October 1996. Tyler allegedly provided the money. In addition, Baker allegedly rode in a university van to Howard's football game at RFK Stadium and was provided meals during her visit.

Also in October 1996, Howard player Elana Lambert was directed by the coaching staff to pick up Gingi Perry, then a top Washington area high school player, so Perry could make an unofficial visit to Howard. However, Perry's father did not permit his daughter to go.

Tyler, whose team has won three of the past four MEAC titles, yesterday declined to comment on the specific allegations. "The university is conducting an investigation, and we'll wait on that," she said.

Hosty, who is on vacation and could not be reached for comment, did not identify the source of the allegations in his letter to the university. But the alleged violations are included in a letter Antoinette Boyd of Landover sent to MEAC Commissioner Charles Harris last March.

Boyd's daughter, Darria, was the Bison's starting point guard in 1997-98 and was a 1998-99 preseason all-MEAC selection. However, she was demoted during the year and dismissed from the team after the season. Her athletic scholarship was not renewed. Darria Boyd has asked the university to review the loss of her athletic scholarship; the appeal is pending, the Boyds' attorney, John Karr, said.

Sources said Robert L. Clayton, a New Orleans-based attorney, has taken over the investigation for the university. (He previously completed an internal investigation of alleged NCAA rules violations in the men's basketball program. The university has not announced the results of that probe and two players withheld from practice and games because of the investigation remain sidelined.)

Clayton has declined comment, referring inquiries to the university.