CBS Sports is reporting that UCLA is hiring New Mexico coach Steve Alford to replace Ben Howland.
It’s a surprise move in that Alford’s name had not been mentioned for the opening in Westwood. The 48-year-old former Indiana star had just led New Mexico to a 29-6 record and a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament before a second-round 68-62 upset loss to Harvard. Alford was 155-52 in six years at New Mexico. Before that, he coached eight years at Iowa where he went 152-106, but was 61-67 in the Big 10.
Jeff Goodman reports that UCLA is signing Alford to a seven-year contract worth $2.6 million per year. UCLA will pay Alford’s buyout at New Mexico. And Alford, who has been to one Sweet 16 (1999) in 18 years as a head coach, replaces a coach in Howland who took UCLA to three consecutive Final Fours.
By the way, Alford had just agreed to a new 10-year deal with the Lobos.