Felony aggravated assault charges against Penn State defensive tackle Chris Baker and reserve linebacker Navorro Bowman were dropped yesterday during a preliminary hearing at the Centre County Government Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pa.

The players were bound over on misdemeanor charges of simple assault, harassment, stalking and disorderly conduct by Magisterial District Judge Carmine Prestia for their alleged roles in an Oct. 7 fight at the Hetzel Union Building-Robeson Center on campus.

Baker, 20, is a redshirt sophomore from Windsor, Conn., and Bowman, 19, is a redshirt freshman from District Heights, Md.

The players are scheduled for a pretrial conference on March 18.

An athletic department spokesman said the school would have no comment yesterday.

Centre County Assistant District Attorney Steve Sloan said he might refile the felony assault charges.

A third Penn State player, redshirt sophomore defensive back Knowledge Timmons, 21, of York, Pa., has been charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct and defiant trespass.

According to court documents, as many as 15 Penn State players were involved in an altercation with members of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. A fraternity member from another college, Varney Capehart, claims he was beaten by a group of players and, according to the police report, identified Baker and redshirt freshman linebacker Bani Gbadyu, of Gaithersburg, Md., as two of his primary assailants. The report said he picked their photos out of a Penn State football program.

What had been a verbal altercation turned physical when Capehart allegedly charged Bowman, who knocked him down. Capehart said he was set upon by the rest of the players, who kicked and beat him as he attempted to crawl under a table.

Baker also is facing assault, trespass and related charges following an off-campus fight in April. That trial has been postponed until next year. Safety Anthony Scirrotto faces similar charges from that incident and his trial date also has been delayed.

Baker, Bowman and Timmons did not travel with the team for the final regular-season game at Michigan State. The spokesman said there has been no determination of their status for the Alamo Bowl against Texas A & M. *