The search for a new basketball coach at Notre Dame isn't likely to end quickly, athletic director Dick Rosenthal says.

"We're not in an extreme rush, but neither do we want to drag it out," he said. "Clearly, the sooner the better."Digger Phelps last week announced his retirement after 20 seasons with the Fighting Irish, and the hunt for a replacement began in earnest this week.

Rosenthal didn't respond Tuesday to requests to confirm or deny the identity of candidates who may be under consideration.

ESPN reported Tuesday night that Bobby Cremins of Georgia Tech is the leading candidate. Meanwhile Prime Ticket, a Southern California-based cable TV service, citing unidentified sources, reported that Cremins would be named by Notre Dame on Thursday.

"There has been a lot of speculation, but it's been premature," Rosenthal said. Cremins was out of town and could not be reached for comment.

"I've talked to a couple of people, but you couldn't call them formal interviews," Rosenthal said. "It was just conversation."

"We want to find a good coach, we want to find a good coach for our university, and we want to find someone who is a fine teacher."

Former Phelps' assistants are still considered possibilities, he said. That would leave John Shumate of Southern Methodist and Danny Nee of Nebraska still in the picture.

One of the first calls went to former Irish assistant coach Pete Gillen, now the head coach at Xavier. Notre Dame was soon looking elsewhere.

"I called the Xavier athletic director asked him to talk with Pete. Then Pete called me and said that he wasn't interested," Rosenthal said.