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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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 “New UCLA head coach Steve Alford: The good, the bad, the ugly” »
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 “Full transcript from UCLA’s AD Dan Guerrero on hiring Steve Alford” »