Jim Lynam, American University basketball coach, said yesterday he was interested in and would pursue the vacant head coaching job at St. Joseph's College in Philadelphia.

But Lynam, a St. Joseph's graduate, and Hawk Athletic Director Don DiJulia, Lynam's brother-in-law, denied reports emanating from Philadelphia that the job was Lynam's for the taking.

"There is no truth to that right now," DiJulia said. "It's definitely wide open. We're still taking calls and letters. It would not be fair to say somebody had it locked up.

"From a basketball standpoint, he's a respected name and a respected coach. But he's not the only respected coach."

Lynam said he was in the Philadelphia area over the weekend, but only to pick up his children. He said he did not talk to DiJulia about replacing the fired Harry Booth. But he said at least two people connected with the St. Joe's program had sought out his interest about the job.

Lynam, 71-60 in five years at American, said he came back to Washington to talk over the possibility with his wife Kay. They decided Monday night it would be worthwhile pursuing.

Lynam told AU Athletic Director From D1> Bob Frailey of his decision yesterday. Lynam said he was very sorry at American, but was interested in the St. Joe's job because it is his alma mater and his roots are in Philadelphia.

Lynam said last night he had not talked to DiJulia. He said he had been away from St. Joseph's for so long that he was removed from the program. He said he did not want to be involved in a drawn-out process to find a new Hawk coach.

Frailey said that Lynam told him he had not been offereed the job. But the athletic director said he knows the facts of life in this case.

"He's a favorite in Philadelphia. He's known as Kid Lynam there. He has not gotten the job; he has not applied for it. But he is not a dummy. He will look into the job. If he didn't, I would have to reassess his intelligence. I still think we have the best coach in Washington."

AU's 17 victories this season marked only the second time the Eagles have won more than 16 games in Division I. The only other time was Kermit Washington's senior year, the final year of the Tom Young regime. Young went to Rutgers and Lynam replaced him at a school who biggest disadvantage is its small campus gym.

The Eagles play their home games at Ft. Myer.

"Our last two coaches have been the best two coaches we could get," said Frailey. "If Jim leaves, I don't intend to change that. We haven't had the best facilities, but we've had the best coaches. I intend to keep that. I've never been afraid to take a chance on a good young assistant."

Young and Lynam fit that bill at the time of their hiring. Two highly regarded young assistants are Joe Boylan, Young's assistant at Rutgers and AU, and Wil Jones, former AU all-America currently on lefty Driesell's Maryland staff.