The saga of who will be Kentucky's new basketball coach continued to play like a soap opera.
The name today is Arizona Coach Lute Olson, who reportedly will be named the coach Monday if he accepts an offer tendered by Kentucky. But, sources said, Olson, who was certain Friday he wanted the job, was not sure today that he will accept. If he turns the job down, the next man in line is South Florida Coach Lee Rose. Former Kentucky player Dick Parsons has also been mentioned as a finalist.
But, as one source familiar with Olson said today, "From a distance you may be able to say no, but once you get here and they start recruiting you, it's very hard to walk away."
Kentucky Athletic Director Cliff Hagan and President Otis Singletary both denied an ESPN report that Olson had been offered the job. That report said the contract offered Olson was worth in excess of $500,000 a year.
Olson, who left Iowa two years ago for a lucrative contract at Arizona, withdrew his name from consideration early this week, then changed his mind and was interviewed here Thursday. He is considered one of the better bench coaches in the country, a skill detractors thought former coach Joe B. Hall lacked.
As one Southeastern Conference assistant coach put it today, "That's all we need, someone here who can really coach."
New Mexico Coach Gary Colson withdrew his name from consideration to succeed retiring Marv Harshman at the University of Washington.
Many coaches here for the National Association of Basketball Coaches convention were angered by Notre Dame Coach Digger Phelps' appearance on ABC-TV's "Nightline" Thursday. Phelps appeared along with Maryland Coach Lefty Driesell in the wake of allegations of point-shaving at Tulane and commented that the case almost undoubtedly was not limited to Tulane and could be widespread.
Many coaches took offense at that comment, especially since it was Phelps who three years ago caused a scene at the Final Four by saying that players were being paid as much as $10,000 by recruiters.
Phelps was vindicated for those comments this season when NCAA Executive Director Walter Byers put the figure at $20,000. This time, friends of Phelps say, the other coaches are just upset because Phelps always seems to be the one who ends up on national television.
Georgetown decided tonight after its 77-59 victory over St. John's that Reggie Williams' ankle was so sore he couldn't talk. So, escorted by several members of the Hoyas' contingent, Williams was escorted out of the locker room as soon as it was open to the media, and put on the team bus. Two Baltimore reporters who attempted to talk to Baltimorean Williams on the bus were turned away . . .
Best line of the tournament even though he didn't mean it that way: Georgetown's Michael Jackson, discussing the Hoyas' dominance of St. John's their last three meetings, said, "That doesn't really mean anything. The last three games have just happened to go that way."