NEWTON, Mass. (AP) _ Jim Jepsen had never heard of Rick Kuhn until this week. And despite spending the last two years at Boston College as an English fellow, Jepsen hasn't become much of a football fan.

But he heard a lot about Kuhn on Thursday when he took time from his freshman writing class to discuss the school's most recent scandal, in which 13 football players were suspended for violating NCAA rules against gambling.

Although two of the players bet against their own team, an investigation found no evidence of the point-shaving that sent Kuhn, a BC basketball player, to prison in 1982.

``I'll be honest with you. I don't follow BC football that closely. I couldn't even tell you their record to date,'' said Jepsen, a round-glasses, fuzzy-sweater academic type. ``But I know the students do and it's important for recruiting students.

``At BU, it's the hockey team. Harvard, they don't have that problem. It's unfortunate that with the sports program here besmirched, it's a reflection on the university.''

Across campus Thursday, students and others affiliated with the school felt obligated to defend themselves from the perception that BC, after two scandals in less than 20 years, has a gambling problem. And all as the national media descends on campus for the biggest game of the year, against No. 17 Notre Dame.

``People are mad,'' said Megan Keddy, a sophomore from Hanover, Mass. ``This is the biggest game of the season. All over the country, that's what they'll be talking about.''

Keddy said she doesn't gamble, but knows people who do some small-time, friendly betting. Robert Chiller, who owns the campus hangout Eagles Deli, knows first hand that BC's problems aren't unique.

``Division I sports is getting out of hand,'' said Chiller, who went to UMass as an undergraduate and was in graduate school at BC when Kuhn was fixing games. He said he was more upset when Minutemen star Marcus Camby admitting taking gifts from agents this spring.

``This has been a rough year for me, because Camby got caught taking money this year and BC got caught this year,'' he said.

Chiller's deli is enough of a campus mainstay to have pictures of former BC stars Mike Mamula, Pete Kendall and Pete Mitchell _ all in the NFL now _ on the wall among the other regulars and those who managed to finish the famous and massive Godzilla burger. The offensive line comes by every Thursday night after practice.

The restaurant is just off the campus, but in the loop enough to start hearing gossip two weeks ago that players had been gambling in violation of NCAA rules. ``That's just deli talk,'' Chiller said, dismissing it as most others did.

But the rumors persisted, and on Saturday, after yet another BC loss, coach Dan Henning decided something must be done. The university notified the NCAA and launched a pre-emptive investigation, calling in the local prosecutor.

The investigation culminated Wednesday with the suspensions of 13 players who had gambled. Henning said two of them _ those who bet against BC _ will never play for the Eagles again.

Henning can only hope that he can make the controversy go away by beating the Fighting Irish on Saturday. Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz said he expected the scandal to draw the remaining players together.

``I do know this,'' Holtz said, ``BC is really a quality institution, and if there are problems there, BC will resolve them and resolve them the proper way. I have great faith.

``You're always going to have some people make bad decisions. Every church I've gone into, and of course I've only gone into Catholic churches, there's a confessional in there,'' he said. ``There's a confessional in there for a reason, because people make mistakes.''