Steve Alford

New Mexico, former coach Steve Alford settle buyout dispute

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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.

Illinois’ injury woes continue as starting center needs knee surgery

George Niang,Abdel Nader,Mike Thorne, Jr.
AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser
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Illinois suffered another blow in what has already turned out to be a brutal season.

Mike Thorne is expected to miss the rest of the season after tearing his meniscus. He reportedly underwent surgery on Monday to repair the injury.

Thorne, a transfer from Charlotte, was starting at center for the Illini and doing a good job of it as well. He was averaging 13.4 points and 8.4 boards, although Illinois has started off the season 3-4.

The reason for that slow start has mainly been those injuries. Tracy Abrams is already out for the season after tearing his achilles, and the Illini training room looked like a M.A.S.H. unit. Kendrick Nunn just returned two games ago from surgery to repair a torn thumb ligament. LeRon Black is still getting back to speed after offseason knee surgery. Jaylon Tate is back after dislocating a finger. Jalen Coleman-Lands was slowed by a stress fracture.

John Groce entered this season on the hot seat, and dealing with all of these injuries certainly isn’t helping his cause.

NEW PODCAST: Recapping Feast Week

Kris Dunn
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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We talk about a lot of stuff of the podcast today, mainly because a lot of stuff happened since we last spoke with you all.

For starters, we need to discuss the ‘realness’ of Syracuse and Xavier. Are they both truly top 15 teams, or do they just have top 15 resumes? We also dive into Chris Mack’s epic troll-job of Dayton at the Advocare Invitational final.

Other topics we touched on: Whether or not Scott is ever going to apologize to Wayne Selden, Wichita State’s tournament hopes, Texas A&M and whether we’d take Ben Simmons, Kris Dunn or Denzel Valentine today.

As always, you can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes right here. It’s the quickest way to get access on your cell phone or tablet.