Nevada-Las Vegas officials will meet with NCAA representatives in Chicago today, hopeful a second appeal could allow the Runnin' Rebels to defend their national basketball championship.

"These kids have worked hard to represent our university and I think they deserve the chance to defend their title," UNLV President Robert Maxson said. "My major concern has always been that our youngsters be treated fairly and that they not be penalized for something in which they were not involved."

Maxson flew to Chicago yesterday with coach Jerry Tarkanian, interim athletic director Dennis Finfrock, university counsel Brad Booke and Danny Tarkanian, the coach's son, who is an attorney. They will meet with the NCAA's five-member Infractions Committee, hoping to reverse a penalty the committee handed down July 20 that would prevent the Rebels from competing in postseason play.

The penalty was the final step in resolving a bitter controversy between Tarkanian and the NCAA dating back to the early 1970s. . . .

A settlement has been reached in the $6.9 million lawsuit former Kentucky assistant basketball coach Dwane Casey filed against Emery Air Freight, Casey's lawyer said. Attorney Joe Bill Campbell would not reveal details of the settlement. The case was scheduled to go to trial Nov. 6.

Casey described the settlement in an interview with WKYT-TV as "healthy." "I'll be comfortable for a long, long time," he said.

The agreement must be approved by U.S. District Judge Karl S. Forester.

Emery officials could not be reached for comment.

Casey sued Emery over its handling of an envelope that allegedly popped open at an Emery terminal in Los Angeles. Emery employees have said they discovered $1,000 in cash and a videotape inside the envelope, which had been sent to the father of a Kentucky basketball recruit in Los Angeles. The envelope bore Casey's name on the return-address line.

The Emery claim sparked an investigation of the Kentucky basketball program by the NCAA that ended with the dismissal of coach Eddie Sutton.

Casey has said he did not put money into the package. He contended Emery defamed his character, invaded his privacy and negligently handled the package.