UNM will pursue the $1 million buyout that former men’s basketball coach Steve Alford agreed to before he left UNM for the same position at UCLA.
In a letter dated Wednesday and sent to Alford, K. Lee Peifer, interim university counsel, said Alford has until April 29 to pay the buyout, although his new contract was not to go into effect until Monday.
“Steve Alford and UCLA do not have a comment on this matter at this time,” said Alex Timiraos, UCLA sports information director, in an email.
The Daily Lobo received the letter, an email to Alford’s representative Michael Barnett and the unsigned contract on Thursday morning after filing an Inspection of Public Records Act request Wednesday.
UNM announced a 10-year deal with Alford on March 20, one day before the Lobos lost to Harvard in the second round of the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championships.
He held an end-of-year press conference one week later defending the team’s success this past season.
On Saturday he announced he is leaving UNM for UCLA. According to the Peifer letter, Alford informed Vice President for Athletics Paul Krebs of his decision on March 30, two days before the contract was to go into effect. Alford could have earned up to $2 million per year after incentives at UNM.
According to his original employment contract signed on June 26, 2007, and renewed on July 12, 2010, Alford needed to give 30 days’ notice to Krebs about the termination of the contract, the letter states. Therefore, Alford’s last day of employment at UNM will be April 29, according to the letter.
“Failure to pay this amount in full by April 29, 2013 will constitute a breach of your employment agreement with UNM,” Peifer wrote.
Alford said Saturday he did not have any contact with UCLA prior to the end-of-year press conference and that it was a tough 48 hours to decide on the Bruins job. Alford will earn $2.6 million per year in a seven-year deal at UCLA.
UCLA officially introduced Alford as its head coach Tuesday at Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles. The reaction of the media was not flattering. Los Angeles Times writer T.J. Simers even called Alford a “dolt” in a Tuesday column.
“Yeesh, the John Wooden statue outside of Pauley had more life to it than Steve Alford, the robot who sputtered nonstop platitudes while never once answering a question directly,” Simers wrote.