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SDSU Appears Close to Hiring UNLV Assistant

March 17, 1987|STEVE DOLAN | Times Staff Writer

San Diego State officials are "very close" to naming Tim Grgurich, Nevada Las Vegas assistant coach, as the Aztecs' head basketball coach, UNLV Coach Jerry Tarkanian said Monday night.

"They met and talked, and they're very close," Tarkanian said. "He's right there, but no decision has been made."

Tarkanian and Grgurich met for 1 1/2 hours after practice Monday with three SDSU officials--Athletic Director Fred Miller and his top two assistants, Al Luginbill and John Wadas.

The three SDSU officials could not be reached for comment Monday evening. They were scheduled to arrive in San Diego on a late-night flight from Las Vegas.

Grgurich said he first met with Miller two weeks ago in Los Angeles after UNLV finished its regular season at Fresno State. He is believed to be the only candidate interviewed twice for the position.

"It was just a little more extensive this time," Grgurich said Monday night. "The first time, I think they wanted to meet me. This time, they went over their program."

However, Grgurich and Tarkanian both said SDSU did not make a contract offer.

Monday, Grgurich became the leading candidate after Gene Bartow, Alabama Birmingham coach, said he was not interested.

Two other confirmed candidates--Boyd Grant, former Fresno State coach and Stu Starner, Montana State coach--also appear out of the running. Grant said Monday he has not been in contact with SDSU officials for a week. Starner said he thinks Montana State is the "best place for him right now."

Grgurich has been Tarkanian's top assistant at UNLV for the past seven seasons. Before that, he had a 71-70 record in five seasons as the head coach at Pittsburgh.

"Timmy is a competitive fellow," said Don Casey, a Clippers' assistant coach. "He's aggressive."

Casey and Grgurich were coaching opponents when Casey was at Temple and Grgurich at Pittsburgh.

According to an SDSU official, the university had not scheduled a press conference to name a replacement for Smokey Gaines, who resigned Feb. 6 but coached through the rest of the Aztecs' season. Grgurich is still in Las Vegas, where UNLV is preparing to play Wyoming at Tacoma, Wash., in Friday night's West Regional semifinals of the NCAA tournament.

Several weeks ago, Tarkanian strongly recommended Grgurich to Miller for the SDSU job. Miller was the athletic director at Cal State Long Beach when Tarkanian was the 49er basketball coach.

Bartow, who has coached Alabama Birmingham for nine seasons, said he withdrew from consideration at SDSU after his team lost to Providence, 90-68, in last week's first round of the NCAA tournament.

"I talked (to Miller) about other coaches and myself once," Bartow said. "Once my season ended, I called and told him I wasn't a candidate."

Grant, Fresno State's coach through the 1985-86 season, met with Miller eight days ago in San Diego. They have not spoken since.

Apparently, Grant is the frontrunner for Colorado State's coaching vacancy. Oval Jaynes, Colorado State athletic director, flew to Fresno last week to meet with Grant.

"The thing with me right now is I'd like to check out Colorado State," Grant said. "My loyalties and heart are certainly with Colorado State. I played there, graduated there, was an assistant there 10 years and one of my daughters was born in Ft. Collins (where Colorado State is located). I have a lot of feelings there. I was impressed with San Diego State, too."

Starner, who interviewed with Miller five days ago, indicated he will remain at Montana State.

"It's my feeling now that I'm going to stay here," Starner said. "We've got a good team coming back."

Scott Thompson, an Arizona assistant coach, has also been interviewed by Miller. Thompson was named head coach at Rice on Monday.

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