CHAMPAIGN, ILL., DEC. 24 -- College associates of Jesse L. Jackson said they think that the Democratic presidential candidate was accused of plagiarizing a paper while a freshman at the University of Illinois in 1960, the Champaign News-Gazette reported.

But the man identified as the instructor involved said today he did not recall Jackson's involvement in any such incident -- or even whether Jackson was one of his students.

Jackson's campaign manager, Gerald Austin, said, "I will not dignify this rumor with a response."

Phil Coleman, who taught at Illinois for 10 years and now teaches at California (Pa.) University, said he remembered a plagiarism incident involving a black student but does not remember the student's name. "Are you telling me it's Jesse Jackson? That's unbelievable," he said.

Jackson has said he left the University of Illinois after two semesters to transfer to North Carolina A&T because racial prejudice prevented him from playing quarterback on the Illinois football team.

Arnie Yarber, a former assistant trainer at Illinois, said, "Jesse left school for plagiarizing.

"I remember him real well. I was a trainer with the freshmen that year, and we talked a lot. He was supposed to turn in an essay, and he took the article from Time," Yarber said. "Coleman had already read it {the Time article}."

Mel Meyers, who was one of Illinois' quarterbacks at the time, told the newspaper he had no direct knowledge of plagiarism by Jackson but had heard about it "through the athletic department."

Austin said Jackson does not plan to release his college records.