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The University of Kentucky basketball program, the most successful in college history, was put on three years probation today by the NCAA, with sanctions to include no television appearances for a year and a two-year ban on postseason play.

Kentucky may also award only three scholarships in basketball for the coming two years. If any current player leaves the team as a result of the sanctions, that scholarship will be lost.The university will also have to forfeit all of the money it received from participating in the 1988 NCAA Tournament because of the participation of Eric Manuel, who was found to be academically ineligible.

According to a release from the NCAA made available by the university today, Kentucky avoided more serious penalties by cooperating in the investigation.

Among other mitigating factors were the appointment of a new athletics director and the resignation of the entire basketball coaching staff.

Among the most serious violations alleged by the NCAA were:

-Former assistant coach Dwane Casey sent cash to the father of then-recruit Chris Mills. The discovery of that cash in an opened air-express package in Los Angeles in April 1988 began the investigation that culminated with today's announcement.

-Eric Manuel committed academic fraud by cheating on a college entrance examination.

-Casey demonstrated a "knowing and willful" effort to violate NCAA regulations and provided false information to investigators about his role in rules violations.

The NCAA Committee on Infractions said Kentucky's violations would have justified a ban on regular-season play for the Wildcats.