UCLA hires New Mexico’s Steve Alford

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. Continue reading

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Steve Lavin surprised UCLA didn’t have coach ‘in the wings’

Former UCLA head coach Steve Lavin decided to pipe in on his old school’s coaching search today. On SiriusXM’s College Sports Nation channel, he wondered why the Bruins the process has lasted almost a full week since Ben Howland’s official firing on Sunday.

“I’m surprised that they didn’t have their pick [waiting] in the wings because historically, programs like UCLA, they’ve got someone in the wings,” said Lavin, now coaching at St. John’s. “They are kinda treading water, but there’s been the wink and the understanding that it is a done deal.

“I know in my case Ben Howland was someone that was really in position six months, maybe even a year, in advance of him becoming the coach.” Continue reading

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Butler’s Brad Stevens turns down UCLA

All the biggest names in UCLA’s coaching search are likely off the market.

Butler’s Brad Stevens will remain in Indianapolis, multiple reports indicated this morning. The 36-year-old head coach was a top target for the Bruins after the team officially fired Ben Howland on Sunday after 10 seasons. Stevens led the Bulldogs to back-to-back national title games in 2010 and 2011, and will be a critical part of the team’s transition to the new Big East next season.

An Indiana native, the coaching wunderkind reportedly makes $1 million a year and has turned down multiple offers from bigger-name programs. Stevens tweeted this morning: “Love walking thru Hinkle (Fieldhouse) in the morning… Anxious to get started on our spring workouts next week.” Continue reading

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Stevens, a top target, gives ‘no comment’ on UCLA

While reports indicate that UCLA is strongly pursuing Butler coach Brad Stevens, whether or not the 36-year-old is inclined to leave remains unclear.

First were the late Wednesday night television reports on KTLA and KCAL9 that Stevens was on the Westwood campus yesterday, but the OC Register reported that the coach was definitely in Indianapolis by Thursday morning.

A private jet with the tail number N700QA flew from LAX on Monday and stayed in Indianapolis for almost exactly 24 hours; rumors abound that the plane carried UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero or another administration member, but that is also unconfirmed.

When approached by the Indianapolis Star this morning at Butler’s Hinkle Fieldhouse, Stevens mouthed the words “no comment.” Continue reading

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Gottfried tweets commitment to N.C. State

North Carolina State head coach Mark Gottfried reaffirmed his commitment to the school via Twitter on Wednesday night. Although he wasn’t a popular fan pick to fill the UCLA vacancy left by the recently fired Ben Howland, the former Bruins assistant had been mentioned as a candidate.

The 49-year-old worked on Jim Harrick’s staff during the 1995 national championship run. A source said Gottfried — who just finished his second season in Raleigh — was interested but had not been contacted by UCLA, adding that former players were supportive of his hire. SNY.tv previously reported that Bruins boosters wanted Gottfried.

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Shaka Smart signs extension with VCU

You can officially strike Shaka Smart from UCLA’s coaching search.

As multiple outlets pointed toward yesterday, Virginia Commonwealth’s hotly-sought head coach has signed an extension through 2023. Sports Illustrated first reported that the 35-year-old will receive a pay bump to $1.5 million per year, up from $1.2 million. VCU is expected to announce the news officially in the next 24 hours.

SI said Smart turned down an offer from UCLA to stay with the Rams. He has also rejected job offers from Illinois and North Carolina State since leading VCU to a Final Four in 2011. His most recent commitment makes it clear that he wants to stay in Richmond, Va., for the long haul.

With UCLA and Minnesota bandying for his services, Smart certainly could have commanded more than a $1.5 million he reportedly will now make. What he got in the restructured contract, according to SI, included more salary and perks for his staff, along with improved meal and travel for his players.

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Gottfried hire supported by former players

North Carolina State coach Mark Gottfried isn’t one of the hottest names mentioned in the UCLA coaching search, but his ties to the school have helped him stay in the conversation.

A source said that although the former UCLA assistant had not yet been contacted by the Bruins, former players have been supporting his hire. The source added that Gottfried — who worked in Westwood from 1987-95 — would be interested in the position should it be offered, but is also happy in Raleigh and would only move for the right situation. Continue reading

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Shaka Smart off the market?

One of the top names on UCLA’s coaching search list may be off limits. VCU’s Shaka Smart has been one of the hottest commodities in college basketball since his team’s Final Four run in 2011, but the 35-year-old could be staying in Richmond for the foreseeable future.

Multiple reports today indicate that VCU is working on restructuring Smart’s contract, including increased investment into the Rams program. The news was first reported by Wes McElroy of Richmond’s Sports Radio 910.

Although nothing has been finalized, USA Today reported that the school hopes to reach an agreement with Smart by the end of the week.

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Full teleconference transcript on Howland firing

UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero spoke with media members for 12 minutes after the school announced that it had fired men’s basketball coach Ben Howland. Here is the full transcript.

Guerrero’s opening statement:

Earlier this afternoon, I met with Coach Ben Howland. We had a nice conversation about the program and a number of things. Subsequent to that discussion, I informed him that we were relieving him of his duties as a head coach at UCLA, and that we would be moving forward with a search as soon as possible.

Q: What were the reasons behind the decision? Continue reading

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