ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Two days after Steve Alford’s stunning announcement that he was leaving the University of New Mexico men’s basketball team to coach at UCLA, there are still plenty of questions.
At the front of the list is whether Alford’s buyout penalty owed to UNM will be the $150,000 he maintained it was last Wednesday or if it will be the $1 million he agreed to in a term sheet he signed. The term sheet set the mutually agreed terms of what was to be a new 10-year contract that was to begin Monday.
“There was a letter of agreement signed. Is that a contract?,” UNM athletic director Paul Krebs asked rhetorically on Saturday. “One way or another, there is a buyout. How much that is… I can’t tell what that number is.”
More about Alford’s decision to leave UNM.
Alford, in a news conference Saturday afternoon with Los Angeles and national media, after meeting with the Albuquerque media earlier in the day, said he thinks the buyout won’t be $1 million despite his signed term sheet.
“I don’t know (the buyout),” Alford said. “I know it’s not April 1 yet. I’m not a lawyer. I’m just an Indiana grad that likes basketball. The lawyers will have to get together and figure that out.”
Krebs said Monday his answer hasn’t changed and that UNM’s general counsel is now reviewing the matter.
The signed term sheet dated March 18, which the Journal obtained Monday, has two seemingly damning lines if UNM thinks it can recover the $1 million.
The opening paragraph states: “Terms are contingent upon our reaching agreement on a final written employment agreement.”
The terms sheet also states: “Term of the contract: Ten years, commencing April 1, 2013.”
Alford, meanwhile, will be formally introduced as UCLA’s coach today at a news conference in Los Angeles.
BAD BLOOD? As first reported Saturday by CBS Sports’ Jeff Goodman, though not confirmed directly by Alford, the now ex-coach was bothered when Krebs told the Journal March 20 that the $240,000 base salary raise in the new 10-year contract for Alford would be paid for by an increase in ticket and concession prices at the Pit next season.
Krebs on Monday said Alford and his agent were well aware of that throughout the negotiations for the new 10-year contract and had no problems with that being the source of the extra income.
RECRUIT SUPPORT: UNM has been high on the list of two of the class of 2014’s top recruits in the West – four-star Phoenix Westwind Prep forward Zylan Cheatham and five-star Aurora (Colo.) Regis Jesuit High School. Both say that won’t change if Neal is hired at UNM.
“Definitely!” the 6-foot-7 Cheatham told the Journal in a text message when asked if UNM was still among his favorites despite the Alford move. “It’s an adjustment but I still like the school and coach Neal and (assistant coach Drew) Adams. Still have interest.”
Randy Perkins, Josh Perkins’ father, told the Journal in a text message that time is of the essence in his son’s recruitment.
“Obviously the departure of coach Alford will impact our decision,” Randy Perkins wrote. “However, a head coach carrying the title interim will have a bigger impact. I guess we’ll wait and see … not too long, though.
“Coach Neal is a good coach and we’ve spent quite a bit of time with him during this recruitment.”
ON THE MOVE: While neither Duane Broussard nor Alford have publicly confirmed it, several employees around the Lobo program have been informed that Broussard, a 10-season assistant coach at UNM under Alford (five seasons) and Ritchie McKay (five seasons) will join Alford at UCLA.
Broussard on Monday would not confirm it as being a done deal.
All other UNM assistants from the past season were still employed at UNM as of Tuesday and waiting to see if interim head coach Craig Neal would land the job before making their next career decision.
NOODLES T-SHIRTS: Several UNM players wearing “UNM HIRE: NOODLES” t-shirts posed with members of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority on UNM campus Monday afternoon.
The picture, which made the rounds on Facebook, Twitter and fan message boards, featured 12 smiling Lobos – Kendall Williams, Tony Snell, Chad Adams, Cameron Bairstow, Devon Williams, Merv Lindsay, Nick Banyard, Hugh Greenwood, Alex Kirk, Jamal Fenton, Chris Perez and Cleveland “Pancake” Thomas wearing the shirts with 30-plus members of the sorority holding up the familiar Lobo hand gesture.
CITY HALL: The Lobos were honored for their 2012-13 season Monday with an official proclamation at City Hall.
After it was read, District 4 Councilor Brad Winter said he hoped Krebs retains Neal as the permanent head coach.
Steve Alford’s signed term sheet
— This article appeared on page D1 of the Albuquerque Journal