No deal has been agreed to, sources said, but the two sides are in talks.
Following Seton Hall's 69-42 loss in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Friday, Willard admitted there's a chance he's not coaching the Pirates next season -- and even suggested former assistant and current Saint Peter's coach Shaheen Holloway, a former Seton Hall star player, as his replacement.
"I'll give you exactly what I can tell you," Willard told reporters. "I have an agent who I haven't talked to yet. I don't know who he's talking to. I have absolutely no idea. But when I get home I'll talk to my agent and discuss things with my agent.
"I have no idea [if things will be resolved soon]. I literally have not -- I've had three different agents in the last month. So my original agent [Jordan Bazant] I've had for 12 years went to TV broadcasting. I'll be honest with you. If I'm not here next year, I'd love, if Shaheen Holloway is here, that would be the happiest thing to happen to me."
Willard, who has been at Seton Hall for 12 seasons, has been considered a favorite in the Maryland search since the job opened in early December following Mark Turgeon's resignation. The Terrapins reached out to Alabama's Nate Oats early in the process, sources told ESPN, but that was a nonstarter due to Oats' massive buyout. USC's Andy Enfield took his name out of the running when he agreed to a new contract with the Trojans this month.
Over the past few weeks, the two coaches to separate themselves from the pack have appeared to be Willard and Notre Dame's Mike Brey, a Maryland native who guided the Fighting Irish to a First Four win over Rutgers on Wednesday and a first-round win over Alabama on Friday. They face No. 3 seed Texas Tech on Sunday.
But it's Willard who has emerged as the favorite.
A Long Island native, Willard, 46, played his college ball at Western Kentucky and Pittsburgh before beginning his coaching career as an assistant coach with the Boston Celtics under Rick Pitino. He followed Pitino to Louisville, where he spent six seasons as an assistant coach before taking the head-coaching job at Iona. In 15 seasons as a head coach, Willard has been to five NCAA tournaments and won a share of the Big East regular-season title in 2020.
He's the son of Ralph Willard, who spent nearly 40 years in coaching -- including stints as the head coach at Western Kentucky, Pittsburgh and Holy Cross.