Steve Bilsky, an assistant athletic director at the University of Pennsylvania, was named director of men's athletics at George Washington University yesterday. He said his first priority is to establish an orderly, long-range program to build the department.

Bilsky, 33, will begin his new job officially on Jan. 3. He said he agreed to a 4 1/2-year contract at a salary he declined to reveal. But sources said it will be in excess of $40,000 annually. The contract is 4 1/2 years because GW's fiscal year ends June 30.

"My emphasis is on doing things correctly and in the right way, building a program over a period of time, trying to correct each facet in an orderly way," Bilsky said. "My first job is to learn as much about GW as possible, inside and outside the athletic department."

Lloyd Elliott, GW's president, said Bilsky's experience with Penn's broad and far-reaching program "will help us greatly . . . We know, too, that his experience in guiding and counseling student athletes in a major Ivy League university will be helpful to us."

Ed Caress, chairman of the search committee that recommended Bilsky and Howard Hohman, former athletic director at Louisville, to Elliott after interviewing six finalists, said that Bilsky's experience on both the academic and athletic sides of college played a major role in his being recommended.

Bilsky, whose sister Carol is a 1974 GW graduate, played point guard for Penn's 1970 and 1971 Ivy League basketball champions. He graduated from Penn's Wharton business school and has a master's degree in counseling from Oregon, where he also served as an assistant basketball coach under Dick Harter, his coach at Penn.

He also played pro basketball in Israel for a year and has been at Penn since 1976, as an academic counselor, a part-time assistant basketball coach and assistant athletic director for the past three years with primary responsibilities for recruiting coordination and admissions liaison.

He also directed the Penn Relays. He played on league championship teams in high school, college and pro level.