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Fickle UNLV turns back to Grgurich

UNLV reversed itself Thursday and offered Seattle SuperSonics assistant Tim Grgurich a three-year contract to coach the Runnin' Rebels men's basketball team.

Grgurich, in Memphis with the NBA team for an exhibition game, was expected to accept the offer and be in Las Vegas by today to open practice.

The offer capped a bizarre string of events that began last Friday, when former coach Rollie Massimino agreed to take a $1.8-million buyout to make way for a new coach. As late as Thursday morning, UNLV interim president Kenny Guinn had said the university would seek an interim coach for the upcoming season and put off hiring a permanent coach.

UNLV's players pressed for Grgurich's hiring. Coaches of other sports at UNLV also met Thursday and said they wanted Grgurich to be named the permanent coach.

Earlier Thursday, reports said Charlotte Hornets scout Sonny Allen, a former coach at Old Dominion, Southern Methodist and Nevada-Reno, had been offered the job on an interim basis.

MORE BASKETBALL: Clemson forward Devin Gray, who had a heart attack six months ago, has been given medical clearance to play. California coach Todd Bozeman, who took the Bears to two NCAA Tournament berths in two seasons, has agreed to a three-year extension.

COLLEGES: Cal State-Northridge students, in a record turnout Tuesday and Wednesday, refused by a 2,315-2,116 vote to increase their fees by $45 each semester to pump $2-million per year into the university's shrinking athletic coffers.

TENNIS: Stefan Edberg beat Jacco Eltingh 6-4, 6-2 to advance to the semifinals of the $763,500 Hong Kong Marlboro championships. Wayne Ferreira, looking for his fourth straight tournament victory, survived a scare to beat Lars Rehmann 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (8-6) in the quarterfinals of the $600,000 Lyon Open. Andrei Chesnokov ousted No.

8 MaliVai Washington 6-4, 7-6 (7-4). Top-seeded Michael Chang downed Shuzo Matsuoka 7-6 (7-4), 6-4 to move into the quarterfinals of the Salem Open in Beijing. Top-seeded Goran Ivanisevic fired 16 aces to beat Greg Rusedski 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (11-9) and reach the quarterfinals of the CA Trophy in Vienna. Top seed Conchita Martinez, who had planned to take a day off from the Brighton International tournament today to fly to her coach's wedding, was upset 6-1, 6-3 by Larisa Neiland. "I saw in her face that she didn't want to play," Neiland said.

ICE SKATING: Viktor Petrenko, skating to rap music in the artistic impression segment, overtook Brian Boitano and won the men's title Wednesday night at the North American Open Skating Championships in Cleveland. Former world champion Denise Biellmann won the women's competition, and Russians Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov won the pairs.

HORSE RACING: An unidentified bettor at Santa Anita on Wednesday hit what is believed to be the largest Pick Six in U.S. history: $1,010,221.40. George McCandless, 83, became the oldest harness driver to win a parimutuel race, guiding Kehm's Scooter to victory in the fourth at Freehold (N.J.) Raceway.

AUTO RACING: Driver Karl Wendlinger will return to Formula One racing less than six months after an accident put him into a coma, his Sauber-Mercedes team announced in France. He will drive in the Japanese Grand Prix Nov.

6. Bad weather forced postponement of the first round of qualifying for the AC Delco 500 Winston Cup race at North Carolina Motor Speedway. Points leader David Green won the pole for the AC Delco 200 Busch Grand National with a record lap of 153.419 mph.

BOWLING: Kim Straub beat Nikki Gianulias 265-216 in the championship match to win her second LPBT title, the $75,000 Brunswick Three Rivers Open in Pittsburgh.

WRESTLING: A South Korean won a gold medal at the Asian Games with a cancerous tumor bigger than a baseball in his stomach, Seoul hospital officials said. Song Sung-il, 25, who took gold in the Greco-Roman mid-heavyweight category, underwent a 5{-hour operation Wednesday.

DEATHS: Joe Paparella, an American League umpire for 22 years who retired in 1968, died Wednesday in Sebastian. He was 85.

_ Compiled from Times wires