Interim Coach Charlie Parker is expected to meet with Athletic Director Mike Garrett today for the first time in a week. Sources said the meeting also will involve contract talks, perhaps as an option if other candidates reject USC offers.
Amaker, 29, a Blue Devil assistant since 1988, appears to be the leading choice to become USC's 19th coach.
He started as Duke's point guard from 1984-87 and was drafted by the Seattle SuperSonics, but was cut.
Since then, Amaker has become one of the nation's leading assistants and two years ago rejected the Northwestern job to remain at Duke with Coach Mike Krzyzewski.
Sources said Amaker now is ready to make the move to the head coaching ranks but is concerned that Garrett's initial offer was too low.
The parties still are talking.
"There are a lot of factors," said a source familiar with the negotiations.
Amaker has a summer youth day camp in which he earns about $100,000. That is in addition to his coaching salary, which is unknown. Part of the drawback with the USC position is the lack of summer camps, television shows and big shoe contracts to boost a coach's earnings.
"He has (good) quality of life in Durham," the source said. "He's got a big house. It's a financial situation. But he wants the job."
Amaker's wife, Stephanie, also has a thriving practice in psychology, which could be a factor in the negotiations.
Others also still being considered, sources said, are George Mason's Paul Westhead, Utah State's Larry Eustachy and Mack Calvin, a former Trojan guard coaching in Mexico City in the Continental Basketball Assn.
Other top assistants such as Kansas' Steve Robinson, Florida's Robert McCullum and Penn State's Jerry Dunn also could be in the mix, but they say they have not been contacted by the school.
Two candidates--Tulane's Perry Clark and George Washington's Mike Jarvis--rejected USC's overtures because of financial limitations.
Garrett said this week he did not want to discuss the coaching situation publicly.
"I don't want to hurt any feelings," he said. "Feelings are important to me. We have to be fair to the process. There have been inappropriate things out there."
That would indicate Garrett was concerned about Parker and his staff, who have two more home games before the season ends--Thursday against Oregon and Saturday against Oregon State.
Parker took over the team two days before the season began, replacing George Raveling, who resigned shortly after suffering serious injuries in a car accident.
USC is 2-14 in the Pacific 10 Conference, 7-19 overall, and has lost its last 12 games.
Times correspondent Sean Waters contributed to this story.