Kansas University chancellor

Bernadette Gray-Little

urged her Nebraska counterpart yesterday to remain in the Big 12 and help avoid a potential calamity for the Jayhawks.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Gray-Little said she got no indication of what Harvey Perlman might recommend when he meets with Nebraska regents on Friday. She said she also planned to call Missouri chancellor Brady J. Deaton with the same message.

In a rapidly developing story that has strained institutional relationships more than 100 years old, Nebraska and Missouri have both said they are interested in moving to the Big Ten. If they leave, that might prompt six other Big 12 members, including Texas and Oklahoma, to consider a possible linkup with the Pac-10. The death of the Big 12 could put Kansas, Kansas State and Iowa State in danger of being left out of any major conference.

Kansas State and Kansas, even with its historically prominent basketball program, would have difficulty maintaining their status as major players in college athletics.

"There are some universities that survive and thrive without a large athletic program," said Gray-Little. "I hope we don't have to test that out."

Kansas and Nebraska have been members of the same conference for decades. Kansas and Missouri have a spirited, colorful football rivalry that began in 1891 and is the second-longest in the country. Their game has been played every year since 1919.

Kansas and Kansas State, fierce rivals for decades, have vowed to work together.

In other expansion news, the presidents of the Mountain West Conference voted not to increase the nine-team league at this time.

In other college news:

* Michigan said tight end Jon Bills was injured in a car accident, is resting comfortably and preparing for surgery.

* A book on the life of John Wooden that he had been working on in recent months will be released in early July. Lydia Rinaldi, of publisher McGraw-Hill, said that "The Wisdom of Wooden: A Century of Family, Faith and Friends" is filled with Wooden's personal memories and some never-before-seen color photos. Wooden died Friday in Los Angeles at 99.

Soccer

* The American owners of Manchester United are $1.6 billion in debt, leaving their control of the club in doubt, the BBC reported. The BBC said its investigation found the Glazer family's debts are $570 million greater than previously known. Malcolm Glazer and his sons also own the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

* Boston's Fenway Park will host a soccer match between Celtic FC of Scotland and Sporting CP of Portugal on July 21.

Philly File

* Casey Grugan (Ridley High), Cabrini's all-time leader in career points, was selected in the eighth round of the Major League Lacrosse draft by the Chicago Machine.

Sport Stops

* Scott Arniel has been hired as the coach of the NHL's Columbus Blue Jackets, the Columbus Dispatch reported. Arniel is 181-105-10-19 in four seasons with Manitoba of the American Hockey League.

* French Open champion Rafael Nadal is No. 1 in the ATP rankings, reclaiming the top spot from Roger Federer nearly a year after relinquishing it.

* Former junior middleweight champion Yuri Foreman will need surgery on his right knee after tearing his meniscus and stretching ligaments Saturday night at Yankee Stadium. Foreman was hurt in the seventh round of his fight against Miguel Cotto, which he eventually lost.