Reports: NASA's Chief Going Back to School

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NEW ORLEANS — NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe has applied for a new job, as chancellor of Louisiana State University, and he is among the search committee's top candidates.

"He is somebody we're very interested in," said Joel Tohline, chairman of the committee looking for someone to fill the $500,000-a-year job.

The Houston Chronicle, citing sources it did not identify, said O'Keefe was poised to step down as NASA chief, and that an announcement regarding his future could come as early as Monday.

O'Keefe, 48, declined comment to the newspaper.

O'Keefe, who applied for the LSU job late Friday or early Saturday, is among a number of people being heavily recruited, Tohline said.

O'Keefe taught business administration and management at Syracuse and Pennsylvania State universities before becoming secretary of the Navy and then NASA's chief. He is from New Orleans, about an hour's drive from Baton Rouge.

His tenure at NASA has included the investigation of the loss of the shuttle Columbia, which broke up during a descent from orbit. He has recently been criticized by scientists for insisting that he will not risk astronauts to make repairs needed to keep the 14-year-old Hubble Space Telescope in operation.