The search is over. UCLA has hired former Indiana star Steve Alford away from New Mexico to be its next head coach, the school announced Saturday morning.
It’s a surprising hire since Alford, 48, just signed a 10-year deal with New Mexico, and, like many coaches before they leave, trumpeted the fact he wanted to stay there. The LA Times is reporting Alford has agreed to a seven-year deal worth $2.5 million a year.
Butler’s Brad Stevens and VCU’s Shaka Smart had previously passed on the job.
It also means Lorenzo Romar isn’t going anywhere.
First up for Alford will be convincing recruits like Bothell’s Zach LaVine to stay the course with UCLA. He will at least get back Kyle Anderson, who said he is not going to the NBA, and Jordan Adams. Center Tony Parker had previously talked of transferring.
Here’s the press release from UCLA:
LOS ANGELES – UCLA Director of Athletics Dan Guerrero announced today the appointment of Steve Alford as the 13th Head Men’s Basketball Coach in program history.
With 22 years of collegiate head coaching experience, Alford led the University of New Mexico to a 29-6 record this season, winning back-to-back Mountain West Conference regular-season and tournament titles, and a berth in the NCAA Tournament for the third time as the Lobos’ head coach.
“Steve is the perfect fit for UCLA,” said Guerrero. “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 be formally introduced to the Los Angeles media at a press conference on Tuesday.
“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,” said Alford. “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 guided New Mexico to postseason appearances in all six seasons (2008-13) in Albuquerque, including three trips to the NCAA Tournament (2010, 2012, 2013). His teams at New Mexico won at least 22 games in each of his six seasons, highlighted by a school-record 30-5 mark in 2009-10. Alford was named Mountain West Coach of the Year in three of the past five seasons and helped produce three Mountain West Player of the Year selections.
Prior to his six seasons at New Mexico, Alford’s head coaching career included successful tenures at Iowa (2000-07), Missouri State (1996-99) and Manchester College (1992-95). Alford helped Iowa engineer a 25-9 record in 2006, leading the Hawkeyes to their second Big Ten Tournament title in six seasons. In his final season at Missouri State (then known as Southwest Missouri State), Alford led the Bears to a Sweet Sixteen appearance in the 1999 NCAA Tournament as the East Region’s No. 13 seed.
A four-year standout at Indiana University (1984-87), Alford served as team captain on the Hoosiers’ 1987 NCAA Championship team under head coach Bob Knight during his senior season. After his freshman campaign, he helped Team USA win the gold medal at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. Alford was selected No. 26 overall in the 1987 NBA Draft and enjoyed a four-year NBA career prior to his start as a collegiate head coach in 1992.