Gerry Gimelstob, an assistant coach under Bobby Knight at Indiana University, has emerged as the leading candidate to become basketball coach at George Washington University.

Only gimelstob, among nine candidates interviewed last week, has been contacted since his initial meeting with a three-man selection committee headed by Bob Faris, GW athletic director. Gimelstob, 30, is expected to be called back to Washington early this week to meet with Lloyd H. Elliott, GW's president, it was learned.

Sources said that Gimelstob has not been offered the job left vacant when Bob Tallant was fired March 4. However, unless a hitch develops in the meeting with Elliott or in contract negotiations, he is expected to be named coach no later than next week.

Contacted at the NCAA Mideast regional at Bloomington, Ind., where Indiana routed St. Joseph's yesterday, Gimelstob refused comment when asked whether he had been contacted since his first interview.

When asked if Gimelstob is the leading candidate, Faris said, "He is certainly one of our top candidates." Asked if Gimelstob is coming back early this week for a second interview, Faris said, "That's probably right." Asked if Gimelstob was the only candidate asked to come back, Faris said, "No comment."

Faris said a total of nine applicants out of about 100 were interviewed last week. However, it was learned that two of them were done only as favors and that they had no chance for the job.

Gimelstob is a native of Springfield, N.J., and a 1971 graduate of the University of Rhode Island. He emerged as the top candidate on the basis of recommendations from Red Auerbach, the Boston Celtic president-general manager and a GW alumnus, and Knight, who reportedly lobbied heavily for his assistant.

Those recommendations, and a good interview here last Tuesday, apparently were enough to overcome the one conspicuous negative in Gimelstob's credentials: he has never recruited in the Washington area during his career as an assistant coach at Indiana and Utah, where he served as an assistant under Jerry Pimm for four seasons.

He spent two seasons as a graduate assistant under Knight before going to Utah, and has been on Knight's staff the past three seasons.

Faris has emphasized he believes GW can be competitive in the Eastern Eight Conference by recruiting locally and regionally. Except for Peter Salzberg, who resigned in midseason after nine years at the University of Vermont, the other five major candidates all have extensive recruiting experience in the Washington area.

They are Bob Wenzel, an assistant at South Carolina and formerly at Duke; Marty Fletcher, an assistant at N.C. State and formerly at De Matha High School; Joe Boylan, an assistant at Rutgers and formerly at both American and Catholic; John Kochan, an assistant at Maryland; and Joe Dean Davidson, the coach at Dunbar High School.

It is understood that the new coach's salary will be $30,000-$35,000 a year. He will work with a recruiting budget of about $20,000 and will be able to hire two assistant coaches in the $18,000-$22,000 range.Faris has said that GW -- one of the hardest Division I schools nationally for an athlete to gain admission -- will not relax its entrance standards.