In the immediate aftermath of Steve Alford’s decision to leave New Mexico to take over as head coach at UCLA, many wondered how much would he have to pay UNM in order to get out of his contract.
While Alford and his representation argued that the coach, who led the Lobos to four Mountain West regular season titles and three NCAA tournament appearances, owed the school just $200,000 UNM stated that he owed $1 million.
Friday the two parties came to a resolution, as the school announced that the end result is a “net benefit of approximately $625,000” according to Geoff Grammer of the Albuquerque Journal.
“On Friday afternoon, the University of New Mexico issued a news release stating that they had reached a buyout agreement with their former Men’s Basketball Coach, Steve Alford, who last month accepted the head coaching job at UCLA,” read an emailed statement UCLA sent the Journal on Friday afternoon. “The UNM news release does require some clarification. While there has not been a signed agreement, New Mexico has agreed to accept $300,000 of their original $1 million demand. A larger figure included in UNM’s release appears to include certain bonuses which Coach Alford previously agreed to forego when he decided to terminate his contract there and accept the offer from UCLA.”
Alford agreed to take the UCLA job on March 30, one day before the $1 million buyout as stipulated in the contract extension Alford signed earlier in the month would go into effect. That was the basis for Alford’s argument that he only had to pay the buyout in his prior contract.
However, according to Grammer’s report, UNM argued that because Alford did not give 30 days notice required in both contracts (the new contract was slated to go into effect on April 1) “he was still employed by the university through April 29 and the new contract was in effect.”
In the end the best thing to do was to solve the dispute without going to court, as it allows both sides to move forward. With an agreement now in place, Alford can continue to build his program at UCLA and New Mexico can proceed with the Craig Neal era.
Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.