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AUTHOR OFFERED NEBRASKA PLAYER CASH, SAYS 'HUSKER COACH OSBORNE

Nebraska Coach Tom Osborne said Saturday that the author of a book on the school's football program offered a former player money for information, an allegation the author denied.

Armen Keteyian, author of "Big Red Confidential: Inside Nebraska Football," said he would consult his attorney Tuesday about the charge Osborne made at a news conference in Lincoln."I believe it's a calculated act on coach Osborne's part to discredit me and the book," Keteyian said in a telephone interview from Bllomfield Hills, Mich.

Osborne said the book's claims of illegal payments and cocaine use by former Heisman Trophy winner Mike Rozier at Nebraska failed to include comment from Rozier's three-year roommate, Nate Mason.

Osborne said Mason called him and said it was implied that he would be paid for an interview about Rozier, but when Mason said he hadn't seen Rozier use cocaine or receive illegal payments, Keteyian and another person claiming to be from Sports Illustrated, Keteyian's former employer, told him they wouldn't pay for the interview.

"But he felt the message was loud and clear that what they were going to do was pay him if he would say Rozier used these things," Osborne said of his talk with Mason.

Keteyian said he had interviewed Mason in 1986, but he refused to disclose details of the conversation. Keteyian said another person was present.

"I have never, ever, offered anyone during my days at Sports Illustrated or NBC Sports, a red cent for information, never," Keteyian said.

Mason's telephone number is unlisted and The Associated Press was unable to reach him for comment. Phone calls to Sports Illustrated's offices in New York went unanswered and the AP's attempts at reaching Rozier have been unsuccessful.

Osborne said he wasn't completely displeased with the book. Keteyian and a 1986 NCAA investigation have failed to implicate the coaching staff or administration in any wrongdoing at Nebraska, Osborne said.

"If you can bear up under that kind of scrutiny, that's good," Osborne said.

The book hit some Omaha stores on Thursday. It deals with reports of illegal ticket sales by athletes, booster payments for game performances, steroid use and drug use. It also implied that former Cornhusker All-American Irving Fryar may have been involved with throwing the 1984 Orange Bowl, a 31-30 loss to Miami, and in gambling on NFL games.

Attempts by The Associated Press to reach Fryar have been unsuccesful.

"Personally I'm pleased with the book," Osborne said. "That may sound like a strange thing to say, but I believe the author called me a mysterious individual with conflicting emotions and for years Nebraskans have felt that I was predictable, unimaginative, too nice a guy, unemotional and all these types of things. And here's a guy who comes from New York City, big-time writer, analyst of human behavior, and he says I'm mysterious and a man of conflicting emotions. I hope Nebraskans will sit up and take notice of that."

Osborne was smiling as he commented from notes he had made about the book, which he has not read in its final draft. He said he had read a galley proof provided by local sportswriters.