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.”