Alfred "Butch" Beard, assistant coach with the New Jersey Nets and former NBA guard, is reportedly the leading candidate for the head coaching position at Howard University, according to sources.

Beard, 43, was only recently interviewed and, according to sources, then was added to the original list of the three names submitted by the university search committee to new president Franklyn G. Jenifer about two weeks ago. Nets officials said Beard was out of town and unavailable for comment.

Athletic Director William Moultrie and Carl Anderson, vice president for student affairs and head of the search committee, declined to name the final candidates. Jenifer was attending a conference and also was not available for comment.

Several others have shown interest in the position, including two other former NBA players, Bobby Dandridge and Norm Van Lier. Sources say both sent in re'sume's but have not been interviewed.

"I don't want to say who any of the candidates are but I can say Dr. Jenifer was given a list of three candidates and, since he will make the final decision, has the right to expand the list if he so chooses," Anderson said. "Right now, everything is in Dr. Jenifer's hands. This will be his first major appointment and it is understandable he wants to take all the time he needs."

Moultrie said the three candidates were chosen from 12 persons interviewed and an original list of 56 applicants, including present Howard assistant coach Ron Curtis and former NBA player and UCLA coach Walt Hazzard.