Michael Bozeman, back at Bishop McNamara as girls' basketball coach after resigning as an assistant women's coach at Fordham University, said yesterday that his decision to give up the college job he held for four months was driven by family concerns and his attachment to the Forestville private school.

He cited the long hours and travel that kept him away from his young family and a desire to return to the girls' program that he had built into one of the best in the Washington area.

"It was a tough decision," Bozeman, 37, said. "In hindsight, I might have been a little naive to think that I could go to a job like that considering my family situation. . . . If I'm going to coach on the collegiate level, it has to be a better fit for me and my family."

Bozeman said Fordham's recruiting demands meant that he traveled for 11/2 months -- including three consecutive weeks in July. He said that was too much time away from his wife and five daughters, whose ages range from 2 to 18. His second-oldest daughter already had moved back to the Washington area to live with Bozeman's parents and attend McNamara this fall.

Bozeman also said he found the atmosphere in college basketball to be much different than he anticipated.

"The relationships with families in college are different," Bozeman said. "You don't build the same relationships that you do on the high school level. . . . And If I didn't feel the passion, then I should make a move now rather than later."

Neither of the two McNamara 2004 graduates who had signed to play for Fordham are at the school now. All-Met Antelia Parrish did not qualify academically to play as a freshman, and Bozeman's daughter, Nikki, asked to be released from her scholarship last month, Michael Bozeman said.

"Was I upset about that [Parrish]? Yeah," Bozeman said. "But that stuff happens all the time. That's not something that is isolated with Antelia. That's not enough to say, 'I quit.' "

Fordham head coach Jim Lewis did not return phone calls seeking comment yesterday.

Parrish and Nikki Bozeman are considering offers from several other schools, including Georgetown, Pepperdine and Old Dominion, Michael Bozeman said.

Several area high school coaches said they were surprised that Bozeman returned, but welcomed him back. Bozeman took over a stagnant program in 1999 and guided McNamara to a 108-13 record over the past three years. The Mustangs held USA Today's No. 1 ranking for most of the past year.

"I know what he has done in building a program and getting the national attention," Riverdale Baptist Coach Diane Richardson said. "It benefits all our local kids."

St. John's Coach Eddie Simpson said that he's ready to rekindle the rivalry between McNamara and St. John's, the team that defeated the Mustangs in last year's Washington Catholic Athletic Conference title game.

"It makes the conference alive again," Simpson said. "Him coming back also gives the conference respect again."