Next to recruiting, the issue that most stirs a college basketball coach's blood is [WORD ILLEGIBLE].

Already in the championship tournament, Al McGuire of Marquette has evenly criticized the NCAA for brain-washing officials.

But Ed Steitz of Springfield College, the rules interpreter for the NCAA and the man who will instruct the four officials for Saturday's semi-final games, said nothing like that will happen.

"I don't tell them anything," Steitz said. "I ask them if there is any interpretation they have a question about. I do it purposely that way so I don't brainwash them. The official rules and interpretations will prevail. That's all I say."

Added Steitz: "We want the game officiated in the spirit and intent of the rules, not the ultra-liberal interpretation of 'No blood, no foul.'"

An example of what by-the-book officiating can mean arose in the East Regional final between North Carolina and Kentucky, which play a physical, handchecking game away from the ball.

Mike Phillips, Kentucky's 6-foot-10, 250-pound center, said afterward that the tight officiating made his team alter its normal defensive style.

The final four officials are the survivors of a complicated system of selection and evaluation.

They are Paul Galvan of the Southwest Conference, Reggie Copeland of the Southeastern, Charlie Fouty of the Big 10 and Irv Brown of the Pac Eight.

"Basketball is the most subjective game in the whole world," said J. Dallas Shirley of Reston, Va., supervisor of Southern Conference officials, a veteran of the rules committee in Raleigh N.C., and College Park, Md.

Shirley is from the call-it-by-the-book school. As a supervisor of officials, he is one of these persons who takes the initial step that provides the NCAA with the 32 officials who work first-round games, in a region other than the one from which they come.

Shirley rates his conference officials and sends the list to the NCAA. That group has never picked anyone other than his No. 1 choice. James Burch of Cary , N.C., Shirley's choice this year, worked the Mideast regional and is the alternate official official here.

The NCAA Basketball Committee in charge of each regional Willis Casey of N.C. State, in this case, appoints the supervisor of officials for the host conference (Norvell Neve of the ACC) to form an evaluating committee of three to five persons.

In the East, this panel included four supervisors of officials and a coach. They evaluate each official in eight categoriese on a scale of 2-to-5.

The two officials dated the highest at each first-round site advance to the regional semifinals. The top two there go to the regional final, and the top one there moves on to the final four.

The eight catergories of evaluation are: application of the rules (judgement), decisiveness, consistency, game control, appearance, mechanics, (how the officials work as a team - are they in position, etc.), rapport with coaches and players, manner (a catch-all for the way in which the official conducts himself on the floor).

Forty is the perfect score, but 33 is an excellent total, according to Shirley. He evaluates differently than he critiques his own conference officials during the regular season.

"I have a policy that I will not question judgement during the regular season," Shirley said. "I will mail him a critique on mechanics. But I have a different philosophy for this. I really am refereeing when I am evaluating.

Galvan won Shirley's vote as the best official in the East Regional, by a narrow margin over Jim Batin of the Big 10.

Shirley explained how the assistant high-school principal from Fort Worth, Tex, wound up here.

Galvin and Booker Turner of the Pac Eight survived the first-round games at Raleigh. They worked the North Carolina-Purdue game. Ben Dreith of the Big Eight and Bob Krote of the Western Atheletic Conference, who appeared to be let-them-play officials, failed to call a number of walking violations in the VMI-Duquesene game, Shirley said.

So Dreith and Korte went home while Galvin and Turner headed for College Park. There Turner worked the Carolina-Notre Dame game when Larry Saunders of the Metro Seven. Shirley was stupified at the manner in which they let a dead-ball dunk situation get confused and out-of-hand.

So it got down to Galvan and Bain to come here. Shirely rated both "in the low 30s" Galvan advanced, Shirely said, "because he had better control of the game, better hustle to be on top of the play and superior mechanics."

So what does Galvan earn here? A round-trip jet coach fare, $30 per diem and $200 for each game he works.

And who will decide the championship-game officials? That committee will be named Friday morning.

Shirley anxiously awaits an appointeent, just as the officials do.