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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Alford haggles on buyout terms

Former basketball coach says his tenure at UNM ended March 30

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By Juan Labreche / New Mexico Daily Lobo

Former UNM men’s basketball coach Steve Alford stands for the national anthem prior to the MWC Tournament Championship game in Las Vegas, Nevada. Alford now has to pay UNM some $1 million as per the buyout clause in his contract with UNM athletics.

assistantsports@dailylobo.com
@JROppenheim

April 29 has come and gone, and Steve Alford has not paid the $1 million contract buyout the University says the former men’s basketball coach must pay.

In an e-mail acquired by the Daily Lobo Tuesday morning, Alford offered to pay $200,000 to satisfy the buyout clause of his previous contract, stating his final day of employment was March 30. Alford left UNM to take the same position at UCLA.

Prior to his departure, Alford and UNM agreed to a new 10-year contract that could have given the coach up to $2 million per year after incentives. The terms of that contract, which was due to take effect on April 1, required Alford to pay a $1 million buyout if he left UNM before 2015.

The University recognizes Alford’s March 30 announcement to leave UNM as a contractually required 30-day notice and his tenure ended April 29. Based on that timetable, UNM argues Alford’s new contract took effect on April 1 and the $1 million buyout must be paid.

Alford disagrees, saying the March 18 term sheet did not come into effect and he “never reached agreement on a final written employment contract including those terms.”

He said his resignation was effective March 30, he performed no services to UNM after that date, and he is not entitled to salary for services rendered after March 30. He said he would not accept salary payment, unpaid deferred compensation or incentive salary.

“My contract with UNM provides that if I terminated the contract before March 31, 2013, I would agree to pay the sum of $200,000,” Alford told UNM in the e-mail. “I herby offer that amount to UNM.”

Alford’s e-mail does not mention the 30-day notice needed to terminate the contract, which appears in Paragraph 7 of the earlier contract.

Associate University Counsel Kimberly Bell said in a statement Alford has not made any payment toward the buyout, but he does in fact owe UNM the buyout from the latter contract. She said she received the e-mail from Alford late Monday afternoon.

“The notice requirement makes it clear that Coach Alford’s April 1, 2013 contract is in effect and that his buyout obligation is $1 million,” she said.

An e-mail to UCLA sports information Alex Timiraos seeking comment from Alford or UCLA was not returned.