Georgetown's John Thompson is expected to be selected as the head coach of the 1988 U.S. Olympic basketball team Friday in Colorado Springs, sources close to the Olympic basketball program said yesterday.
The 16-man selection committee is scheduled to vote Friday morning, with the leading candidates being Thompson and Larry Brown, head coach at the University of Kansas. Denny Crum, coach of NCAA champion Louisville, Lute Olson of Arizona, and Eddie Sutton of Kentucky also are reported to be among at least five finalists.
The committee's choice for head coach will be announced Friday at 5 p.m. by the Amateur Basketball Association of the U.S.A.
Sentiment in many amateur and pro basketball circles the past year has been that Thompson is the overwhelming choice to be the 1988 head coach.
Thompson has said all along he would love to be Olympic head coach. But he maintained last night that he is not lobbying for the job.
Thompson was a strong candidate in 1984, but he lost out to Indiana's Bob Knight, who coached the men's team to a gold medal in Los Angeles. Thompson worked with Knight at the 1984 Olympic trials, was the president of the National Association of Basketball Coaches in 1985, and currently is working with Knight on the Olympic player selection committee.
Thompson and Crum, both committee members, will not be allowed to vote on a coach; neither will a third candidate. The third candidate is probably Olson, who will coach the U.S. team in the world championships this summer.
Swede Erickson, who represents the junior colleges on the committee, reportedly is sick and will not vote.
Among those expected to vote are Dave Gavitt, the Big East commissioner, 1980 Olympic head coach and chairman of the committee; North Carolina Coach Dean Smith; Knight; Ken Anderson, who will represent the NAIA; Col. Joe Rittman, who will represent the Armed Forces; Warren Brown, who will represent the nation's high schools; Bill Hanzlik of the Denver Nuggets, who will represent the athletes; Jack Hartman of the NABC; John Pariseau of the Amateur Athletic Union; and at-large voters C.M. Newton, Wayne Embry and Pete Newell.
Thompson's Georgetown teams won the NCAA championship in 1984, went to the Final Four in 1982 and 1985 and made the final eight in 1980. In his 14 seasons at Georgetown, his teams have won an average of 23 games per year. Thompson was an assistant coach to Smith in the 1976 Olympics.
Brown has been a college basketball coach for only five years, two at UCLA (1979-81) and the last three at Kansas. But he has taken teams to the Final Four twice, in 1980 at UCLA and this past season when his Jayhawks lost to Duke in a semifinal.
Crum's teams won NCAA titles in 1980 and '86 and have made the Final Four six times.
Sources said some members of the selection committee were concerned whether Brown still will be coaching college basketball when the Olympics are held in Seoul in September 1988. Brown, who coached nine years in professional basketball, is often mentioned as a candidate for NBA jobs.