The NCAA banned the Houston football program on Friday from playing in a bowl game for the next two years and ordered a reduction in scholarships as a result of what it said was an eight-year series of recruiting violations.

The announcement brought further woes to the Southwest Conference, which has seen six of its nine football programs placed on probation during the 1980s."We took a pretty good licking," Houston Athletic Director Rudy Davalos said. "I don't think it comes as a surprise. We had hoped it would be a little lighter, but it wasn't. That was probably caused by all the dumb things that were done in the department in the past."

The NCAA said the school had committed 25 rules violations as part of an unspecified number of incidents - most of them involving cash payments as large as $500 to prospective players. The NCAA also said coaches had loaned gasoline credit cards, made illegal contacts with athletes, provided clothing and loaned cars.

The violations, the NCAA said, took part from 1978 to 1986 and were committed with the full knowledge of former coach Bill Yeoman.

"The violations on occasion were so numerous," the NCAA said, "that the former head football coach (Yeoman) and his assistants, even after they began to tell the truth, were not able to recall all the occasions they gave money to student athletes."

As part of the sanctions, the NCAA recommended Yeoman not be allowed to associate with current or prospective players for one year. He currently works as a school fund-raiser.

The NCAA ruling placed Houston on probation for three years, placed a bowl sanction on the school for two years, banned any television appearances in 1989 and limited the Cougars to 15 scholarships in 1989. Davalos said Houston would lose about $300,000 because of the television ban.

Because of the sanctions, Houston will not be allowed to compete for the Southwest Conference championship during the 1989 or 1990 seasons. That will make four straight years in which at least one of the league teams has not been eligible to play for the SWC crown.

Southern Methodist, the first victim of the NCAA's so-called "death penalty," did not have a football team for the 1987 or 1988 seasons and Texas A&M was ineligible in 1988 because of NCAA probation. Texas A&M coach Jackie Sherrill resigned last week in the wake of further allegations against that school's program.

Friday's action does not affect Houston's upcoming trip to the Aloha Bowl, where the Cougars will play Washington State on Christmas Day.