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Posted: 8:25 AM- Athletic director Chris Hill has requested - and received - permission to interview Kent State's Jim Christian in his search for a new basketball coach at the University of Utah, giving the search its first confirmed lead on whom might replace Ray Giacoletti.

Kent State athletic director Laing Kennedy confirmed that he has given Hill permission to speak with Christian, though he was unsure if or when a meeting might take place. Both Kennedy and Hill worked together last weekend on the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee.

"I have absolutely no knowledge of where they're going, or where they're heading at this point," Kennedy said.

The 42-year-old Christian has led the Golden Flashes for five years, building a 110-51 record while continuing a streak of nine straight 20-win seasons. The Flashes finished 21-11 this year, ending with a 61-54 loss to rival Akron in the semifinals of the Mid-American Conference tournament last week.

In their effort to keep Christian, the Golden Flashes rewarded him last season with a seven-year contract extension through the 2012-13 season. Its terms call for it to be automatically extended by one year as a reward for winning 20 games this season.

Christian earns $250,000 a year before bonuses, according to the terms of his contract, which the Utes could at least double. They paid Giacoletti nearly $500,000 a year before forcing him to resign earlier this month.

While Christian is the first coach known to be on the list of candidates for the Utes, Hill also is believed to be interested in Milwaukee Bucks assistant coach Larry Krystkowiak, and perhaps former Utah assistants Tommy Connor and Donny Daniels - who have the endorsement of several former All-Americans.