College Basketball

Charlotte 49ers coaching search stretches into 2nd week

Charlotte Hornets assistant coach Mark Price.
Charlotte Hornets assistant coach Mark Price. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

Here are some things we know about the Charlotte 49ers’ tightly held search for a men’s basketball coach as it continues into its second week:

Timing

Charlotte’s goal is to have a decision before the Final Four. If the 49ers are considering college coaches who have been involved in the NCAA tournament and National Invitation Tournament, they would not have been able to talk to them until this week at the earliest, anyway. If they’re looking at a coach whose team is still playing, that could stretch on through April 6, the date of the national championship game.

A reported offer

ESPN.com reported Tuesday the 49ers have offered Charlotte Hornets assistant Mark Price the job. Price, who has no head-coaching experience, is in his second season with the Hornets and Bobcats and has been an NBA assistant for eight years. His only college coaching experience came in 1999-2000, when he was an assistant at his alma mater, Georgia Tech. ESPN.com reported the 49ers have offered Price, 51, a five-year contract.

What has happened?

Chattanooga coach Will Wade interviewed for the job to replace Alan Major last week, but he quickly withdrew his name from consideration. A source said Wade wasn’t convinced Charlotte was expending enough resources on certain things – such as scheduling attractive nonconference games at Halton Arena – to justify leaving a top program in a single-NCAA tournament-bid league (the Southern Conference) for a program that struggled in another one-bid league (Conference USA).

Who else is out there?

N.C. Central coach Levelle Moton would be very interested in the job, a source has told the Observer. Moton, who has a five-year record of 107-53 with the Eagles, signed an eight-year extension in 2014, although his buyout could be as little as $100,000. It’s not clear if the 49ers have been in touch with Moton.

Arkansas associate head coach Melvin Watkins, a former 49ers player and coach, also might be a candidate. Watkins played on Charlotte’s 1977 Final Four team and coached the 49ers to NCAA tournament appearances in both of his seasons as coach (1996-98).

Is there a hurry?

The most pressing tasks facing Charlotte’s new coach will be injecting stability back into the program and hitting the recruiting trail. The 49ers will have at least one extra scholarship to offer after the transfer of forward Willie Clayton. Center Mike Thorne also plans to leave Charlotte after he graduates in May and play a fifth season of eligibility elsewhere. He has not yet been granted his release.

Scott: 704-358-5889; Twitter: @davidscott14

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