With negotiations at a standoff five weeks after the end of the basketball season, Morgan State has given coach Todd Bozeman until Thursday to accept a contract offer or have it pulled off the table, according to a source familiar with the situation.
Sources from both sides indicate the sticking point is less about salary than about the school's academic support program.
Bozeman's contract expired at the end of the season, after a three-year run in which he took the team to two postseason tournaments - the National Invitation Tournament and the NCAA tournament - and won consecutive regular-season titles in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. The Bears had only one winning season in the 26 years before Bozeman arrived in Baltimore.
Morgan spokesman Clint Coleman said Tuesday that the school is still optimistic a new contract can be reached.
"The university intends to go as long as it takes to resolve the matter," Coleman said.
He would neither confirm nor deny that Morgan has issued Bozeman an ultimatum and said only that he believed Bozeman had been offered a new contract. "The ball's in his court," Coleman said.
According to another source, Morgan has offered to raise Bozeman's salary but is offering only a percentage of the $25,000 bonus he received last year for making the NCAA tournament. More importantly, Bozeman and Morgan President Earl S. Richardson appear to disagree over the academic support system that helps student-athletes stay eligible.
Said Coleman: "I believe Dr. Richardson is giving Coach Bozeman all he can. And I believe Coach Bozeman thinks whatever he's asking for is do-able."
Bozeman came to Morgan after serving an eight-year "show-cause" NCAA ban for paying a recruit at the University of California.
The university could feel the effects of the impasse soon. Recruits can sign with a school until May 15, and the uncertainty over Bozeman's status has caused at least one junior-college player to reconsider, the second source said.