Former North Carolina State basketball coach Jim Valvano said yesterday "it's very likely" he will sign a contract to become a basketball analyst for ABC and its cable subsidiary ESPN. With Keith Jackson and Dick Vitale set as one of ABC's broadcast teams for college basketball, Valvano's signing means he could be paired with former CBS announcer Brent Musberger.

The three-year contract could be worth as much as $900,000, but "a few kinks need to be worked out" before the deal is complete, a source told The Washington Post. An announcement of the deal could come as early as Monday, according to an Associated Press report quoting Valvano and a source.

"It's a bit premature for me to say anything," Valvano said before teeing off in the the Crosby celebrity golf tournament in Clemmons, N.C. "We're hopeful that things will be worked out."

The source said Valvano chose ABC because in doing so he would also be able to work games on ESPN, which carries the majority of nationally televised regular season college games. . . .

Danny Ford, breaking a long silence since his contract as Clemson football coach was bought out, said he didn't feel he had much choice. Ford didn't say he figured he'd be fired if he didn't resign, but that was the implication.

"It was a situation where a separation was wanted and it was done," Ford said during a news conference Friday in Greenville, S.C. "I don't think I had the option of being the coach at Clemson."

Ford, however, refused to characterize his Jan. 18 resignation as forced or say why he quit, but said it had nothing to do with an NCAA investigation, a fact confirmed by the NCAA. Former Arkansas coach Ken Hatfield replaced Ford three days after he resigned.

If Ford returns to coaching within the next five years, it could cost him. Under the settlement he reached with Clemson, he will be paid $190,000 a year for up to five years if he doesn't accept a head coaching job. But Ford said that won't affect his decision whether to return to the sidelines.

"I don't want Clemson's money," he said. "I can make a living -- I think."