Steve Alford issues apology regarding Pierre Pierce case

Since being hired as UCLA basketball’s 13th head coach, Steve Alford has weathered intense criticism concerning his defense of Iowa star Pierre Pierce in 2002.

Then a sophomore for the Hawkeyes, Pierce was faced with third-degree sexual assault charges and suspended from the team. However, Alford repeatedly proclaimed Pierce’s innocence, even doing so less than a week before the point guard pleaded to a reduced misdemeanor.

A University of Iowa report then stated that Alford’s comments “implied that he disbelieved and discredited the claims of the student victim, and his words were perceived as reflecting insensitivity to issues of sexual assault and sexual violence.” Pierce was imprisoned later on separate charges that included assault with intent to commit sex assault.

On Thursday, nine days after he was introduced at Pauley Pavilion, Alford issued an apology through a press release. His statement in full:

Over the past week, questions have arisen about my handling of an incident involving a charge of sexual assault made against a student-athlete in 2002, while I was coach of the University of Iowa men’s basketball team. At that time, I instinctively and mistakenly came to his defense before knowing all the facts. I wanted to believe he was innocent, and in response to a media question, I publicly proclaimed his innocence before the legal system had run its course. This was inappropriate, insensitive and hurtful, especially to the young female victim involved, and I apologize for that. I have learned and grown from that experience and now understand that such proclamations can contribute to an atmosphere in which similar crimes go unreported and victims are not taken seriously. It’s important for me personally and professionally to make sure Chancellor Block, Athletic Director Dan Guerrero, all of my student-athletes and the entire UCLA community, including our fans, understand that today I would handle the situation much differently, with the appropriate regard and respect for the investigative process and those impacted by it. I look forward to being a Bruin and leading a program that everyone will take pride in, both on and off the court.

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Financial summary of Dan Guerrero’s contract extension

On Thursday, UCLA officially announced that it had extended athletic director Dan Guerrero’s contract for six years and nine months. Here is a summary of the main financial terms from the new agreement, which starts retroactively on April 1 and ends on Dec. 31, 2019. Continue reading

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Dan Guerrero’s contract extended through 2019

UCLA announced Thursday that it has extended athletic director Dan Guerrero’s contract through 2019.

The Bruins have won 22 NCAA national championships since Guerrero was appointed in 2002, guiding the program to what chancellor Gene Block said is a “national example of how intercollegiate athletics serve and further the mission of higher education.”

The new contract is retroactive to April 1, and will replace the one that expired on March 31. Guerrero has a rolling five-year clause that would have taken effect had there not been an extension. As the the Daily Bruin first reported, Guerrero will be paid $734,774 with an annual 5 percent increase.

His new term of appointment will end on Dec. 31, 2019.

Prior to the extension, Guerrero was already the highest-paid athletic director at a Pac-12 public school with $715,211 in guaranteed salary.

The school said in a press release that no tuition or state funds were used in his compensation, which comes from athletic department revenues and private fundraising. Continue reading

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New Mexico wants $1 million from Alford by April 29

UCLA coach Steve Alford got a hug from Shaq on Tuesday, but got some far less welcoming news a day later.

New Mexico, his employer of the past six years, wants its full $1 million buyout before the end of the month. Alford had blindsided the school, taking a job with the Bruins just 10 days after the announcement of a 10-year extension with the Lobos.

According to documents obtained by the Albuquerque Journal, the school’s legal counsel is arguing that Alford’s original contract — signed in 2007 — required that he give 30 days notice before leaving for another job. Therefore, the school considers his last day to be April 29, and is demanding full payment by the same date. Continue reading

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Notes from Steve Alford’s official introduction

UCLA did its best to give new coach Steve Alford a warm welcome, rolling out a grand stage for him on the Pauley Pavilion floor Tuesday at noon. Here’s the full scene from the day as well as a photo gallery featuring Shaquille O’Neal, but these are the main highlights. Continue reading

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New UCLA head coach Steve Alford: The good, the bad, the ugly

Former New Mexico coach Steve Alford isn’t a home-run hit as a coaching hire, but under the circumstances, UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero could have done worse. With Butler’s Brad Stevens and VCU’s Shaka Smart recommitted to their respective programs, the Bruins’ were running out of big-name options.

Alford’s recent 10-year extension with the Lobos proved to be a minor obstacle, and Guerrero had clearly been communicating with the coach about the job for at least the past few days. Here’s a look at what the 48-year-old Alford brings to Westwood.

The good: Continue reading

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Full transcript from UCLA’s AD Dan Guerrero on hiring Steve Alford

UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero’s opening statement:

Tremendously exciting day for me and the entire UCLA family as we are proud to announce the hiring of Steve Alford as the new men’s basketball coach. Since last Sunday, obviously, the last six days have been pretty crazy, quite a whirlwind. There was a great deal of interest from many circles for this job. During the past several days, I received a lot of input from individuals both inside and out of basketball. Around the game of basketball as well. These individuals have provided great input, great insight, and certainly helped contribute to where we are today.

I think what resonated most about these conversations is how much alignment of vision there was between me and many others in terms of the characteristics that were important in the next coach. In Steve Alford, we found exactly what we were seeking. An outstanding coach, a great competitor, an excellent teacher of the game, builder of programs, someone who cares deeply about his players and his family. An individual that values academics, that has established a habit of winning in his respective programs. Maybe more importantly, an individual who really wanted to accept the challenge of being the head coach at the UCLA.

I can’t tell you again how thrilled again I am to have Steve and his family join us. I believe he will build this program the right way.

Q: When did you know he became available considering he had just agreed to a contract extension at New Mexico? Continue reading

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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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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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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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