UCLA fans better get on board with Steve Alford as the head coach of their program, because he’s going to be there for a long time.
Yes, he signed a seven-year deal with $18.2 million, but the length and value of a contract does little to dissuade a coach to leave for a longer, more valuable contract should one arise.
The reason that Alford will be locked in at UCLA for the longterm, per a report from the LA Times, is that he’s got an unusually high buyout clause in his contract: if he leaves UCLA before April 30th, 2016 — when he would complete his third year on the job — Alford would have to pay the school a buyout of four times him annual salary, or $10.4 million. If he leaves before four years are complete, his buyout will be $7.8 million. After five years, it is $5.2 million and if he leaves before finishing six years on the job, that number drops all the way to $2.6 million.
Perhaps what makes this buyout all the more surprising is the mirror provision in the contract, meaning that if UCLA decides to fire Alford, they’ll be on the hook for the same buyout structure.
What that means is that Alford will, in all likelihood, be in Westwood for at least five years, and possibly six, making guaranteed money. I don’t care how poorly things are going, I find it tough to believe that UCLA would shell out more than $5 million just to make a coaching change. That’s risky, as it creates little incentive for winning. Alford is going to be getting paid regardless of how well his team performs, and even if they’re at the bottom of the Pac-12 standings throughout his tenure, he’s going to play out the majority of his contract.
Now most coaches are wired as competitors with dogged work ethics; that’s just how you have to be to survive at the high-major level.
The good news is that this guarantees consistency; Alford can recruit and build his program with recruits knowing that he’ll likely be there throughout their college career.
But if anything happens to go wrong, Alford and UCLA are stuck with each other for the long haul.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.