Morgan State football coach Donald Hill-Eley said he might soon be out of a job after he accidentally received an e-mail earlier this week outlining the university's plans to seek his replacement.
Hill-Eley, who has led the Bears to a 54-69 record in 11 seasons, said he hadn't heard anything official from the university as of Friday despite receiving the e-mail on Tuesday evening.
"I don't know what's going on," Hill-Eley said when reached on his cell phone. A university spokesman said he had no immediate comment about Hill-Eley's status.
The coach said he has faced greater expectations to win since David Wilson became the university's president two years ago but said he has not received the bump in resources he would need to achieve that goal. He said four assistant coaches, for example, don't receive health benefits from the university.
"He said the expectations had changed," Hill-Eley said, recalling a conversation with Wilson. "But the input didn't change, so how do you expect things to change on Saturday?"
Hill-Eley, 43, was once regarded as the best hope in years to return Morgan to the glory days of the 1960s, when the football program ranked as a titan among historically black universities and produced future NFL greats Leroy Kelly and Willie Lanier.
As a young offensive coordinator at Morgan, Hill-Eley installed a high-scoring attack. As head coach beginning in 2002, he stabilized a program that hadn't played better than .500 football in more than two decades.
But after coaching the Bears to winning records in each of his first two seasons, Hill-Eley struggled to push the program past mediocrity. Morgan had suffered three straight losing seasons and had fallen to 3-8 in 2012, finishing tied for eighth in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
Hill-Eley said Friday that Morgan will struggle to contend regularly in the MEAC unless the university increases its financial commitment to football.
"It's about resources, bottom line," he said. "They think that just because they have a stadium, that's enough. But you look at a place like Towson, and they've significantly increased their investment in their program. I'm doing everything I can here, and the administration sits back and says I'm already getting enough."
If he's removed, Hill-Eley, who also served as wide receivers coach for the Baltimore Stallions of the Canadian Football League, would leave as the third-winningest coach in Morgan history behind legends Eddie Hurt and Earl Banks.
Byron Selby, one of Hill-Eley's former quarterbacks at Morgan, said he was distressed to hear of the coach's apparent fate. "We just had an instant connection," said Selby, who committed to Morgan from Dunbar and graduated in 2008. "Just his vision of what he wanted to do and the way he wanted to start out by getting Baltimore players. He became like a father figure to me."
Selby said Hill-Eley had done the best he could to remain competitive given the resources he was afforded.
Hill-Eley said athletic director Floyd Kerr had apologized to him for forwarding the e-mail that contained a schedule for seeking a new coach. He said he has one year left on his contract and that he told Kerr to direct any further communications about his status to his agent.
Kerr did not immediately respond to a call seeking comment.
The e-mail, originally written by Kevin Banks, Morgan's vice president for student affairs, said the last year of Hill-Eley's contract would be honored and made reference to a possible reassignment within the university.
It laid out a schedule that would have the university interviewing potential replacements by mid-December and announcing a new coach by early January.
Accidentally forwarded e-mails are common mishaps in the modern world, said Andrea Bartz, co-author of the "Netiquette" column on CNN.com. She cited a 2011 AOL survey in which 32 percent of respondents said they had forwarded an e-mail unintentionally and added that anecdotally, the percentage seems much higher.
"But this was definitely a large faux pas," Bartz said of the e-mail to Hill-Eley. "When you're in a situation with high stakes like that, you have to be even more sure. It sounds like a horrible thing for this guy to discover."
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