Men's basketball: UCLA lures Alford away from New Mexico

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UCLA lures Alford away from New Mexico

Steve Alford was hired as UCLA basketball coach yesterday, just days after he agreed to a new 10-year deal with New Mexico.

Alford, 48, agreed to a seven-year deal worth $18.2 million, with a yearly salary of $2.6 million and a $200,000 signing bonus, said UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero.

“This is truly a leap of faith,” Alford said, calling UCLA “the premier basketball program in the country.”

Alford’s deal with New Mexico, scheduled to take effect on Monday, was worth more than $20 million over 10 years.

Guerrero said Alford is responsible for a buyout of his agreement in Albuquerque. Both Alford and New Mexico athletic director Paul Krebs said they didn’t know how much the buyout was worth.

Alford led New Mexico to a 29-6 record this season, but the Lobos were upset by Harvard in the second round of the NCAA Tournament shortly after Alford’s new contract was announced.

Krebs said it was like a “bomb dropped in the room” when Alford told his players he was leaving.

“There’s a lot of raw emotion right now,” Krebs said.

Lobos senior center Alex Kirk did acknowledge: “Nobody would say no to UCLA. That’s crazy.”

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