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Heath's phone begins to ring

From staff & wire reports Published: March 27, 2002 12:00 AM

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. _ Arkansas athletic director Frank Broyles, looking for a replacement for fired coach Nolan Richardson, has received permission to talk with Kent State's Stan Heath, whose Golden Flashes were among the final eight teams in this year's NCAA Tournament.

"I gave Frank Broyles permission to talk with coach Heath," Kent State athletic director Laing Kennedy said Tuesday.

He said Broyles contacted him on Monday. Kennedy said he did not know when Heath would be interviewed.

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Heath, 36, just finished his first year at Kent State. The 10th-seeded Golden Flashes advanced to the finals of the NCAA South regional before losing to Indiana 81-69.

During their run, the Golden Flashes beat Oklahoma State 69-61, Alabama 71-58 and Pittsburgh 78-73 in a game that went into overtime.

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Kennedy said other schools also have inquired about Heath, adding that he was not surprised because of Kent State's NCAA showing. He described Heath as very articulate and said he does a "great job on and off the court."

Heath is also expected to interview for the head coaching position at West Virginia, which was granted permission to court the rookie Kent State boss.

Kennedy said that Heath has four years left on a contract that is being amended and that Kent State plans to put additional other resources into its program.

"Taking us to the 'Elite Eight' has just been awesome for Kent State," he said. "We want to continue to be at this level with or without coach Heath."

Heath has a buyout clause in his contract of $120,000 that his new institution would have to satisfy in order to hire him.

Meanwhile, Wyoming athletic director Lee Moon confirmed that Cowboys coach Steve McClain is in the running for the Arkansas job.

Richardson was fired after making comments that administrators found damaging to the basketball program. On Thursday, university system President B. Alan Sugg upheld White's decision to release Richardson. He said the coach had said privately and publicly that he wanted to be bought out for the last six years of his seven-year contract.

White and Broyles said Richardson's remarks damaged the program. Sugg, after a three-day review, agreed.

Members of a committee formed to help find a new coach conducted two interviews Monday. At least two more were scheduled Tuesday.

The committee interviewed Richardson assistant Mike Anderson and Arkansas-Little Rock coach Porter Moser on Monday. Broyles had promised Anderson the first interview, and the Moser interview might have been nothing more than a courtesy call. Arkansas-Little Rock is a sister school to the Fayetteville campus.

McClain flew into Fayetteville on Monday night and was picked up by Broyles.

Moon said Tuesday that Arkansas officials contacted him Monday and told him McClain was interviewing for the job.

McClain, whose Cowboys finished 22-9 this year and upset Gonzaga in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, removed himself on Friday from consideration for the head coaching job at Texas Christian.

Others mentioned in speculation about the Arkansas job include Western Kentucky coach Dennis Felton, Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson, Illinois coach Bill Self, Duke assistant Johnny Dawkins and Tennessee Tech coach Jeff Lebo.

Some names may have surfaced as wishful thinking and some may have been floated by coaches looking for a raise.

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