Contract talks between the University of Maryland and football Coach Bobby Ross will be postponed until the end of the season so Ross isn't distracted from preparing his team for the final six games, Athletic Director Dick Dull said yesterday.

"With six games remaining and with as much energy as contract talks usually take, we've decided to postpone any discussion of Bobby's long-term contract until after the Virginia game (the final game of the season, Nov. 29)," Dull said. "Bobby takes his coaching very, very seriously. And I don't want to do anything that would take his attention away from the team."

Ross and Dull were set to discuss a long-term contract this week because Maryland doesn't play again until Oct. 19. But after a meeting Monday afternoon, they agreed not to "take anything away from the task at hand," Dull said.

Maryland has been trying for months to secure Ross with a long-term contract. Ross' record since becoming head coach at Maryland is 28-13.

Although the Terrapins were ranked No. 1 in two preseason forecasts, they are 3-2 and currently unranked, and some alumni have written Ross and expressed displeasure with the team's play. Dull said Maryland wants Ross to sign a long-term contract regardless of those facts.

"I think Bobby wants to stay here," Dull said. "I don't want to go looking for a football coach. I don't think I could find a better one. We are committed to Bobby whether he wins the next six games or loses the next six."

Ross had appeared ready to sign a 10-year contract before the season, then grew dissatisfied and wanted a better definition of admissions requirements for recruits and an elimination of some admissions delays that might have cost Maryland a couple of recruits.

Ross, whose leverage improved with offers from Minnesota and Missouri, also wanted the school not to drag its feet on stadium improvements. Maryland already has looked into improvements regarding concessions, rest rooms, a new press box and an upper deck on Byrd Stadium, which currently seats only 45,000 without the temporary end zone bleachers.

Dull said the academic guidelines for recruits are in draft form, and that he would meet with one of the school's vice chancellors on that matter next week.

Dull said he thought Monday's talk with Ross was productive. "I think Bobby's been quite happy with the progress," Dull said.

Ross has said he would prefer not to comment on any contract discussions until the end of the season.