Utah Corrections Director Gary DeLand said "rumor control" is the main reason he has been discussing his plans to leave his post eventually and return to private consulting.

DeLand said Gov. Norm Bangerter asked to see him last week after hearing rumors the corrections chief planned to leave his job as early as February or March."I'd told my staff I was roughly targeting something in a year or so," DeLand said, but his recent hiring of New Mexico Corrections Superintendent Lane McCoter fueled rumors that DeLand was grooming a replacement for the top corrections spot. "The governor had also heard those rumors," DeLand said. "I told the governor I would give him a date as soon as I had one."

McCoter will begin Jan. 2 as the new director of the department's Division of Administrative Services, replacing Ken Shulsen, who is retiring. DeLand said Shulsen's replacement was chosen without regard to DeLand's plans to leave his post.

McCoter has been New Mexico's top corrections official for about 6 years and was the director of corrections in Texas prior to that, said Dave Franchina, corrections spokesman.

DeLand said he had planned to stay in the job for only two years when he first took the position in 1985. The national average term of service for a corrections chief is less than three years. The high turnover is unfortunate because it takes a new chief that long just to get to know the system, DeLand said.

DeLand's five-plus years in the job ranks him ninth of approximately 56 corrections directors in the nation in terms of length of service, he said. Time has taken its toll. "I'm getting tired of the day-to-day things of the job."DeLand said it would surprise no one that he expects to make more money when he returns to the private sector as a prison consultant. "It costs a lot to work for the state, even in one of the higher-paying positions," he said.

September 1991 will probably pass before DeLand makes any announcement about stepping out of the job, he said. Part of his decision about when to leave depends on the status of ongoing projects and concerns.

The department is working to resolve litigation with the American Civil Liberties Union about medical services, and DeLand said he wants to see plans for a comprehensive programming system, improvements in the department's computer system and a central records system "far enough along to wave good-bye to them" before he leaves.

But don't be surprised if the resignation comes before a session of the Legislature, he said. Battling for funds and programs during the 45-day session is a difficult and depressing time of the year, DeLand said. "I hardly have enough time to find an hour a day let alone 45 days to educate legislators" on critical needs, he said.