There is "a pretty strong mandate" for the NCAA Basketball Rules Committee to implement a 45-second shot clock next season, Ed Steitz, the NCAA rules editor, said today.

"I see a very, very strong trend toward adopting the clock," Steitz told The Washington Post. "I can't say yes, that it's going to be, I can only say what the data and research show."

The National Association of Basketball Coaches, meeting here in conjunction with the Final Four, is expected to release data Thursday showing that its members favor a shot clock by a 2-to-1 margin.

The 45-second clock, running for the entire game, was used on an experimental basis during the regular season, but is not being used in the NCAA tournament because it failed to pass by one vote when the rules committee considered the issue a year ago in Seattle.

There are 13 members on the committee, chaired by C.M. Newton, basketball coach at Vanderbilt University. It takes nine votes to pass a new rule. This year's meeting is scheduled here on Tuesday.

Newton was optimistic last year that a 45-second rule would be adopted, thereby ending the potential for a coach trying to hold the basketball against a superior opponent.

But the proposal to implement a 45-second clock failed at that time, not because the opponents were against the concept of a shot clock, but because it would be used the entire game, instead of being turned off with either two or four minutes remaining.

Although Steitz, athletic director at Springfield College, is even more optimistic this year that a 45-second clock will be implemented, at least one prominent coach, Iowa's George Raveling, said today it still "is a hotly contested issue."

"There are a couple of people on the rules committee who believe it should be off the last two minutes of the game," he said. "It rewards poor defense and promotes zone defense."

But Steitz, declining to name the individuals, said, "There will be changes (from committee members who voted no last year). They are people who say, 'Show me. Convince me.' "

For that reason -- the committee has a track record of being conservative -- it is unlikely to do anything other than experiment in the areas of a three-point shot or a rule change concerning deliberate fouls in the final minutes of a game.

Three conferences used the 45-second clock and three-point shot this season. Scoring was down five points per game in the Atlantic-10 Conference and up by five points per game in the Pacific Coast Athletic Association and Big Sky Conference.

The deliberate fouling by trailing teams has been an emotional issue for the last two years, since North Carolina State advanced through the NCAA tournament by using deliberate fouls to its advantage.

Proponents of stiffening such rules say that such fouls reward a team for fouling. Two years ago, the rules committee mandated two free throws for all fouls in the final two minutes. All that did was promote earlier fouling and intentionally fouling a team's worst foul shooter in the final two minutes. The rule was rescinded in midseason.

Now, the committee is being asked to study the international rules that allow a team to choose between shooting the free throws or retaining possession. "We will take a definite look at that," Steitz said. "It's a question of whether the international rule is sufficient, whether it's enough of a penalty to serve as a deterrent for fouling."