UCLA Hires Steve Alford as Next Head Coach

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UCLA Hires Steve Alford as Next Head Coach

The UCLA Bruins have hired former New Mexico Lobos head coach Steve Alford as their new head basketball coach, according to the team's official website on Saturday.

Alford's new contract with UCLA will pay him a reported $2.6 million per season for seven years, according to CBSSports.com senior basketball writer Jeff Goodman via Twitter:

According to ESPN's Darren Rovell via Twitter, Alford and New Mexico had agreed to a 10-year deal worth $20 million at the start of the 2013 NCAA tournament less than two weeks ago:

The 48-year-old Alford will replace Ben Howland, who was fired earlier this week following 10 seasons with the program.

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Howland led UCLA to three consecutive Final Fours from 2006 to 2008 and a Pac-12 regular season title in 2013, but his Bruins were without second-leading scorer Jordan Adams this March and were upset in the 2013 NCAA tournament's round of 64 by 11th-seeded Minnesota.

Alford went 155-52 in six seasons with New Mexico, leading the Lobos to an impressive 29-win season in 2012-13, the second-most wins in program history. 

According to Goodman, Alford and New Mexico's athletic director clashed after Alford was given a raise earlier this month, perhaps paving the way for his move west to Los Angeles:

A former star under Bob Knight at Indiana, Alford broke out onto the college basketball coaching scene in 1999 when he led Cinderella Southwest Missouri State to a Sweet 16 appearance. He won 152 games with Iowa from 1999 to 2007, leading the Hawkeyes to three Big Ten tournament titles and three NCAA tournament appearances. 

Alford coached the past six seasons at New Mexico, leading the Lobos to the NCAA tournament three times in the past four years. Despite winning the Mountain West Conference's regular season and tournament championships this March, Alford's talented squad was upset in the round of 64 by 14th-seeded Harvard in this year's NCAA tournament.

 

Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter. 

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