Alford Signs With UCLA Basketball After Contract With New Mexico

Steve Alford has signed on as men’s basketball coach at UCLA less than two weeks after agreeing to a 10-year contract with the University of New Mexico.

Alford, who replaces the fired Ben Howland, joins the Bruins after six seasons at the University of New Mexico. The Lobos went 29-6 this season, winning the Mountain West Conference regular-season and tournament championships before losing their opening game of the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament to Harvard.

Before the loss to Harvard, the 48-year-old coach had reached a deal with New Mexico that was worth more than $20 million over 10 years and was to take effect tomorrow, the Associated Press said.

Alford agreed with UCLA on a seven-year deal worth $18.2 million, with a yearly salary of $2.6 million and a $200,000 signing bonus, AP said, citing UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero.

“It was not an easy decision because I was extremely happy,” Alford said, according to the AP. “I was about as happy as I can be. When I kept thinking about things, it still came back to UCLA. You’re talking about the premier basketball program in the country. To have an opportunity like this, they don’t come around every day.”

Guerrero called Alford “the perfect fit for UCLA.”

“He is part of the storied history of the game of college basketball and understands the tradition and uniqueness of UCLA,” Guerrero said on the school’s website. “Yet he also connects with a new generation of players and brings an up-tempo and team-oriented brand of basketball to Westwood.”

Alford, the captain of Indiana’s 1987 NCAA championship team, has also coached at Iowa, Missouri State and Manchester College. He will be introduced at UCLA on April 2, the school said.

Howland was fired March 25 after going 233-107 in 10 seasons. The Bruins were 25-10 this season and lost their opening NCAA tournament game to Minnesota.

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