Chip Zimmer, acting athletic director at George Washington University, and Howard Hohman, athletic director during Louisville's 1980 NCAA basketball championship season, apparently have emerged as the leading candidates for the permanent job at GW.

A screening committee has interviewed five candidates and is scheduled to interview a sixth today. The committee, chaired by Edward Caress, GW's faculty representative to the NCAA, is expected to make its recommendation to GW President Lloyd Elliott as early as Thursday.

"We will recommend the one or ones we think will be best for the university," Caress said.

Age and experience are the major differences between Zimmer, who came to GW in March as the No. 1 assistant to now-retired Bob Faris, and Hohman, currently a fund raiser at Division II Cal Poly-Pomona after a year as athletic director there.

Zimmer, 31, whose previous jobs were in marketing with the Capitals and the University of Maryland, has no previous experience running an athletic department. Hohman, 46, has been an athletic director at every level from high school to Division I. He was AD at Louisville for almost two years, resigning in 1980 for what one university official said amounted to standing up for his beliefs in a dispute with the football coach.

GW's major sport is basketball. Sources say that a major reason in last year's hiring of Gerry Gimelstob as basketball coach was first-hand experience in knowing what it takes to win an NCAA title. He was an assistant at Indiana during the 1980-81 championship season.

Caress declined yesterday to discuss criteria being used in the selection process or to comment on specifics. He said since interviews are not complete, he is "still open-minded" about the recommendation. But the consensus among GW staff personnel who have met and talked to the candidates already interviewed is that Zimmer and Hohman are the most impressive.

The other finalists, according to sources at the university, are Jim Harding, former athletic director at Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a former pro and major college coach; Richard McDuffie, AD at Seattle University; Dave Ocorr, former athletic director at the University of Rochester, and Steve Bilsky, assistant AD at the University of Pennsylvania.

Bilsky is scheduled to be interviewed today.

Zimmer is a 1974 graduate of West Virginia University and received a master's degree there in 1976. He is completing work on a doctorate at the University of Maryland. He has worked for the Capitals in marketing and replaced Russ Potts in 1979 as assistant athletic director in charge of sports marketing at Maryland in 1979.

Hohman played basketball, baseball and tennis at Elmhurst (Ill.) College. When a severely broken leg ended his career as an athlete, he transferred to Illinois, from where he graduated in 1957. He received a master's degree from Maryland the next year and a doctorate from Indiana in 1971. He was a coach and chairman of the physical education departments at Western Illinois and Northern Montana, and was athletic director at Miami-Dade South JC before going to Louisville in July 1978.