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.
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 →
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.”
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 →
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 →
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.
Last night, Jimmy Kimmel asked former UCLA great and Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was asked about the job opening at his alma mater. Skip to around 1:50 in the above clip to watch.
“I certainly would be interested in coaching the team,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “It would be great to have an opportunity to restore the program to what it was. Not in terms necessarily of winning, but having the guys learn, get their degrees, and learn about how to play the game of basketball. I think that’s really important. UCLA is still putting out fine scholars, but the basketball program has suffered a little bit.”
Recently fired head coach Ben Howland said in his final press conference that every player who stayed with him for four years graduated with a degree. Abdul-Jabbar’s chances at the job are also close to zero.
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 →
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.
Athletic director Dan Guerrero didn’t get into too many specifics in today’s teleconference on coach Ben Howland’s firing, but here are a few quick notes. Guerrero took questions for roughly 12 minutes.
– Guerrero said he did not make the decision until he flew back to Los Angeles from Austin this afternoon. He first met with Chancellor Gene Block before meeting Ben Howland to officially deliver the news.
– Howland’s compensation will be the $3.5 million left on his contract. Guerrero said that cost would be mitigated should Howland find another job. As for where the money will come from, Guerrero said: “We have an $80 million budget. We’re incorporate the buyout as part of that budget. … I believe we’ve got it covered.”
– Guerrero did not want to comment on speculation that Howland’s job could have been saved by a tournament run with a non-injured Jordan Adams, but did say this: “The fact that we had such a depleted roster, in many respects, is in part one of the reasons for making the decision.”
– On the coaching search: “We’ll look for someone who can play a fun brand of basketball, but also a quality brand of basketball. … We don’t want to bring in a coach that’s going to average 50 points per game.”
Guerrero said he will not contact a target that is still currently coaching in the NCAA tournament. He added that while college coaches have an edge, NBA coaches will also be considered.