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South Florida's Greenberg denies speaking to Fresno St.

Amid reports he is a candidate to replace Jerry Tarkanian at Fresno State, South Florida coach Seth Greenberg said he has not been contacted by the school.

"I have not talked to anyone, I swear," Greenberg said Wednesday night. "If they speak with Lee Roy (Selmon, USF's athletic director, to ask permission to talk to Greenberg), then we'll go from there. Until then, I won't worry about it." reported Fresno State's list also includes Division II Metro (Col.) State's Mike Dunlap, Cal State Northridge's Bobby Braswell, Washington Wizards assistant and former Fresno State player Rod Higgins, Pacific's Bob Thomason, UCLA assistant Jim Saia and UC Irvine's Pat Douglass.

The Fresno Bee is reporting Cal Santa Barbara's Bob Williams also is a candidate.

Greenberg has strong California connections, having coached against Fresno State during his six years at Long Beach State before coming to USF.

Tarkanian retired at the end of this season after seven years at Fresno State. Like Greenberg, Tarkanian coached at Long Beach State _ about four hours away _ before making a national reputation at UNLV.

Greenberg, who said he will earn $140,000 this season, signed an extension with USF in the fall of 2000 _ a few months after he was a candidate at Miami _ that runs through the 2004-05 season. He is 93-86 with two NIT appearances in six seasons at USF, and he was 105-70 at Long Beach State.

Bender fired at Washington

SEATTLE _ In the end, affection and respect for Bob Bender weren't enough. Not when he couldn't win.

Bender was fired Tuesday after nine seasons as coach at Washington. Athletic director Barbara Hedges announced the change Wednesday, saying she asked Bender to resign during a 20-minute meeting.

She called it one of the most difficult decisions she's made. Hedges, who fired football coach Jim Lambright and then hired Rick Neuheisel, met with Bender for 1{ hours last week, then scheduled a meeting for Tuesday.

Hedges said she was not pressured by boosters or anyone else to fire Bender.

"Bob is an exceptional person and has served this university very well," Hedges said.

She said a national search for a replacement would begin immediately but said she did not have a specific candidate or a timeline.

Doug Wrenn, the team's leading scorer as a sophomore last season, had said he would return as long as Bender was around to coach him, otherwise he would consider the NBA.

Hedges said she hadn't spoken to Wrenn, but plans to meet with him and other players in the next few days.

Wrenn said Wednesday night he has not decided whether he will return. He's focusing on his final exams this week and will sit down with Bender to get the coach's advice on what to do next.

"I really don't know," Wrenn said. "Everything is really confusing. Everyone's lives are affected, not just coach Bender's."

RICHARDSON STATUS: Nolan Richardson will be in limbo for another day, with the University of Arkansas system president saying he is not ready to say whether he agrees with a decision to terminate the coach's contract.

Two days after President B. Alan Sugg met with Richardson, his office released a one-paragraph statement that said Sugg "continues to review the termination of the employment agreement between the University of Arkansas and Nolan Richardson Jr., and no announcement will be made today."

AWARDS: Kansas forward Drew Gooden and Duke guard Jason Williams were chosen co-players of the year by the National Association of Basketball Coaches.

Williams and Gooden, both juniors, have led their teams to berths in the NCAA Tournament's round of 16.

Williams is averaging 21.5 points; Gooden averages 20.2 points and 11.2 rebounds.


WOFFORD: David Graves resigned as coach and was hired as an assistant at Western Kentucky.

_ Information from Times wires was used in this report.