UCLA has hired New Mexico's Steve Alford as its new head coach, according to multiple sources.
UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero has been in discussions with Alford since his New Mexico team lost to Harvard in the second round of the NCAA Tournament last Thursday.
Guerrero flew earlier in the week to see Alford, and reportedly Alford met with Guerrero and UCLA representatives Friday night in Los Angeles to complete the deal.
Terms of the contract weren't exactly known. Alford was earning approximately $1 million per year at New Mexico, and it's believed the UCLA deal is for $2-2.7 million per year. Alford just signed a 10-year contract with New Mexico a week ago, which includes a $1 million buy-out.
Alford, 48, just finished his sixth season at New Mexico, going 29-6, while winning the Mountain West regular season championship and conference tournament championship. The Lobos were ranked 10th at the end of the season and garnered a #3 seed in the Tournament, before losing to Harvard, 68-62, in the second round.
Alford has taken the Lobos to the NCAA Tournament in three of his six seasons. He has a 155-52 record while at New Mexico, averaging 26 wins per season.
Several publications had this season's Lobos team pegged to make the Final Four.
Before coaching in Albuquerque, Alford spent eight seasons at Iowa and four seasons at Southwest Missouri State. He made the NCAA Tournament three times at Iowa, and the Sweet 16 in his last season at Southwest Missouri State.
Alford has won Mountain West Coach of the Year in three of his six seasons at New Mexico.
Alford, of course, made a name for himself as an All-Big Ten guard at Indiana, winning a national championship in 1987.
Parallels will be drawn to John Wooden, who also started his basketball career as a high school player in Indiana. Alford's father, in fact, coached basketball at Coach Wooden's alma mater, Martinsville High School.
Alford's hiring could reap some immediate recruiting benefits. Alford coached UCLA transfer Drew Gordon at New Mexico and Gordon's younger brother, Aaron Gordon, the 6-9 forward from San Jose (Calif.) Archibishop Mitty, is one of the top unsigned players in the country for the class of 2013.
UCLA's Release on Alford
UCLA NAMES STEVE ALFORD HEAD MEN’S BASKETBALL COACH
LOS ANGELES – UCLA Director of Athletics Dan Guerrero announced today the appointment of Steve Alford as the 13th Head Men’s Basketball Coach in program history.
With 22 years of collegiate head coaching experience, Alford led the University of New Mexico to a 29-6 record this season, winning back-to-back Mountain West Conference regular-season and tournament titles, and a berth in the NCAA Tournament for the third time as the Lobos’ head coach.
“Steve is the perfect fit for UCLA,” said Guerrero. “He is part of the storied history of the game of college basketball and understands the tradition and uniqueness of UCLA. Yet he also connects with a new generation of players and brings an up-tempo and team-oriented brand of basketball to Westwood. We welcome Steve, his wife Tanya, and children Kory, Bryce and Kayla to the Bruin family and look forward to many years of success.”
Alford will be formally introduced to the Los Angeles media at a press conference on Tuesday.
“I have been so fortunate and blessed in my life, and an opportunity to lead the one of the greatest programs in college basketball history is once-in-a-lifetime,” said Alford. “It is an honor to be the Head Coach at UCLA, yet it is also a responsibility to ensure that our former, current and future players and fans are proud to be Bruins. I am grateful to Chancellor Gene Block and Dan Guerrero for this amazing opportunity and I can’t wait to get started.”
Alford guided New Mexico to postseason appearances in all six seasons (2008-13) in Albuquerque, including three trips to the NCAA Tournament (2010, 2012, 2013). His teams at New Mexico won at least 22 games in each of his six seasons, highlighted by a school-record 30-5 mark in 2009-10. Alford was named Mountain West Coach of the Year in three of the past five seasons and helped produce three Mountain West Player of the Year selections.
Prior to his six seasons at New Mexico, Alford’s head coaching career included successful tenures at Iowa (2000-07), Missouri State (1996-99) and Manchester College (1992-95). Alford helped Iowa engineer a 25-9 record in 2006, leading the Hawkeyes to their second Big Ten Tournament title in six seasons. In his final season at Missouri State (then known as Southwest Missouri State), Alford led the Bears to a Sweet Sixteen appearance in the 1999 NCAA Tournament as the East Region’s No. 13 seed.
A four-year standout at Indiana University (1984-87), Alford served as team captain on the Hoosiers’ 1987 NCAA Championship team under head coach Bob Knight during his senior season. After his freshman campaign, he helped Team USA win the gold medal at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. Alford was selected No. 26 overall in the 1987 NBA Draft and enjoyed a four-year NBA career prior to his start as a collegiate head coach in 1992.