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Heath at top of Arkansas' list

From staff & wire reports Published: March 28, 2002 12:00 AM

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. _ Kent State coach Stan Heath emerged Wednesday as the leading candidate to replace fired Arkansas basketball coach Nolan Richardson, but interviews with other candidates were planned.

The chairman of Arkansas' search committee said as many as a half dozen more coaches could be interviewed this weekend at the Final Four in Atlanta.

At one time Wednesday, it was thought that Illinois coach Bill Self and Heath were the leading candidates. But indications Wednesday night pointed to Self remaining with the Illini.

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"He is not a candidate," said Tommy Boyer, chairman of the 14-member committee assembled to help pick a new coach. "He has never been offered the job."

Boyer said the committee would meet today and "prioritize the candidates." He said Arkansas athletic director Frank Broyles' timetable of hiring a coach by early next week was possible.

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Self said Wednesday that he is concentrating on his job at Illinois and that "any reports connecting me to the Arkansas job are not accurate."

Heath is one of about a half-dozen coaches interviewed in Fayetteville, but he was the only one given a personal tour of Walton Arena by Broyles. In addition, university officials held a reception for Heath and his wife.

Heath makes about $190,000 per year, but Kent State is reportedly trying to put together a new package worth about $250,000 per year. Self has three years left on a contract worth $825,000 per year. Richardson made slightly more than $1 million per year.

Kent State athletic director Laing Kennedy said he talked to Heath, who visited Fayetteville on Wednesday, but that they discussed the Golden Flashes. He said the visit to Arkansas was not a topic.

"We talked about Kent State business," Kennedy said. "We talked about getting on with the business at hand."

In another development, Heath visited West Virginia on Wednesday to discuss the Mountaineers' vacant coaching job, which opened when Gale Catlett retired Feb. 14 after 24 seasons.

Heath led Kent State to the final eight in this year's NCAA Tournament. The 10th-seeded Golden Flashes (30-6) advanced to the finals of the South regional before losing to Indiana 81-69. During their run, the Golden Flashes beat Oklahoma State, Alabama and Pittsburgh.

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