UCLA has officially hired New Mexico head coach Steve Alford, the school announced Saturday morning.
“Steve is the perfect fit for UCLA,” athletic director Dan Guerrero said in a statement. “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 reportedly make $2.6 million per year on a seven-year contract.
The coach had just agreed to a 10-year contract extension with the Lobos that reportedly paid him $2 million a year including incentives, but a buyout of just $150,000 left the door open for the Bruins. The buyout was set to increase to $1 million on April 1.
He had just led the Lobos to back-to-back Mountain West regular-season and tournament titles, but suffered an embarrassing loss to No. 14-seeded Harvard in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
The 48-year-old has advanced a team to the Sweet Sixteen just once — in 1999, as head coach of Southwest Missouri State. He went to Iowa for eight seasons after that, taking the Hawkeyes to three NCAA tournament berths before his six-year tenure in New Mexico.
Alford has a 463-235 career mark, and is 5-7 in the NCAA tournament. As a star player at Indiana, he won an NCAA championship under Bob Knight in 1987.
“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,” he said in a statement through the university. “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’s son, Bryce, is a three-star shooting guard who will presumably join UCLA as well. He had been verbally committed to New Mexico before his father’s hire.