KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ At least one potential candidate believes Kansas State's search for a new basketball coach may be drawing to an end.

''People are saying they think something's going to happen this weekend, maybe tonight,'' Washburn coach Bob Chipman, who played at Kansas State in the early 1970s, said Thursday.

''I think it's well known they would like to get something done before national signing date.''

In the meantime, Kansas State officials were said to be planning interviews this weekend and could be meeting Thursday with Tubby Smith of Tulsa, reportedly the front-runner.

A critical time is 8 a.m. Monday, the last time coaches can contact recruits prior to Wednesday's signing date. Presumably, it would be much to Kansas State's advantage to have a coach chosen in time to place at least a few last-minute calls to prospects who may be wavering.

The job came open when Dana Altman, who had come under increasing criticism, quit after four years to take the job at Creighton. The Wildcats, who made it to the semifinals of the NIT, were the last Big Eight team to finish playing this year.

A 23-person advisory committee met earlier this week, but Kansas State athletic director Max Urick was contacting possible candidates last week at the Final Four in Charlotte, N.C. Other names being mentioned besides Chipman include Smith, Duke assistant Mike Brey and head coaches Tom Asbury of Pepperdine and Larry Hunter of Ohio.

Chris Small, Tulsa's interim athletic director, said Kansas State asked permission to talk with Smith, who was expected to be offered a pay hike by the Golden Hurricanes.

Chipman, a teammate of former Kansas State coach Lon Kruger in the 1970s, is 360-199 in 15 years at Washburn. He took the Ichabods to the NAIA title in 1987 and has been to the final eight the past two NCAA Division II tournaments. Chipman confirmed he had met with Urick ''only in an informal basis.''

''He tried to contact me in Charlotte,'' he said. ''He had contacted others and he felt it only fair I have an opportunity to visit. We had an informal meeting, basically like the other candidates he had in Charlotte.''

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ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) - High in the rafters atop the canopied Home Run Porch in the Texas Rangers' brand new stadium are a half dozen newly installed lifesize plastic owls.

The sentries glare forbiddingly into the dark corners of the right field seats of The Ballpark at Arlington, where an embarrassing problem became apparent during last weekend's official unveiling of the stadium.

When the roar of the crowd at exhibition games against the New York Mets gave way to the gentle flapping of wings overhead, some fans complained of being splattered by droppings from pigeons flying overhead.

''The pigeons are doing what's natural to all animals. They're leaving their droppings,'' Jack Hill, the Rangers vice president for ballpark development said.

Park workers have dutifully scrubbed nature's evidence from seats and walkways, but officials are working to eradicate the source - and complete an 11th-hour blitz of other fine tuning - before Monday's official home opener against the Milwaukee Brewers.

''We've had advice from several experts,'' Hill said as pigeons playfully circled outside his office window, swooping in the airy upper-level section of the stadium's canopied right field seats.

''We've had people tell us to put up rubber snakes. One guy gave me some bird-repellent caulk,'' Hill said.

Hill said he hopes the fake owls will trigger the pigeons' instinct to flee.

If not, the porch may be equipped with high-frequency electronic squealers, inaudible to humans but excruciating to the pigeon ear.

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Kip Janvrin posted the best decathlon score in the world so far this year at the 28th annual Sea Ray Relays at the University of Tennessee.

Janvrin's score of 8,179 bettered the previous high mark this year of 8,111 by Steve Fritz. Both Fritz and Janvrin are sponsored by VISA.

Janvrin's score broke the meet and track record of 7,996 points by Kevin McGorty of VISA two years ago.

Janvrin, the coach of Central Missouri State, held an 18-point lead over 1992 U.S. Olympian Aric Long going into the 1,500 meters. Janvrin outdistanced Long easily with a track event record of 4:17.74.

''I knew I could beat Aric by 20 seconds if I had to,'' said Janvrin, who actually beat him by more than 30 seconds. ''I knew I was going to win unless I cramped up or fell.''