ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The financial details have not been completed, but University of New Mexico men’s basketball coach Steve Alford will have a buyout clause in his new long-term contract.
On Friday, Alford told the Journal he had agreed to a two-year extension that keeps him as Lobos coach through the 2019-20 season. On Saturday, the school released a statement saying “specific details will be announced when the contract is finalized.”
UNM athletic director Paul Krebs said there is a buyout in the contract – an amount Alford or his new employer pays UNM in the event Alford leaves for another coaching job – but Krebs wouldn’t give any details on the amount or when it would kick in.
Alford’s current contract pays him just more than $1 million per season plus bonuses. The coach said the salary would “remain about the same, but there will be additional bonuses.” Alford stands to make more than $100,000 in bonuses this season.
Neither Alford nor Krebs would comment on the buyout, which isn’t a part of the current contact.
Alford’s original UNM contract, starting in the spring of 2007, was a six-year deal. He received a three-year extension following the 2007-08 season. He also gets an automatic one-year extension each season the Lobos win a Mountain West Conference title, which they have done each of the past two years. That took the contract through 2018, and the new two-year extension boosts it to 2020.
“In three years, Steve has not only raised the profile of the New Mexico basketball program within the Mountain West Conference, but also on the national stage,” Krebs said. “Lobo basketball has made dramatic improvement competitively and academically under Steve’s watch. Steve has been a tremendous ambassador for the University of New Mexico, the city of Albuquerque and the state of New Mexico. We hope he and his family will be here a long time.”
Krebs, like Alford, was in Indianapolis for Saturday’s Final Four.
When Alford took over the Lobos, he inherited a program that finished in last place in the MWC during the previous season and was in academic turmoil under ousted coach Ritchie McKay. In Alford’s first season he led the Lobos to a 24-9 record and finished third in the MWC at 11-5. In 2008-09, the Lobos were 22-12 and grabbed a share of the MWC title at 12-4.
This past season, they set a school record for victories in going 30-5 and won the league crown outright at 14-2.
In the meantime, Alford has turned around the program academically. Come spring, six of Alford’s seven seniors will have graduated, and the only one who hasn’t is J.R. Giddens, who is playing in the NBA.
“This is great news for the university, the state and the community,” UNM president David Schmidly told the Journal on Saturday.
“Steve’s one of the best coaches I’ve ever worked with and I was really, really pleased when Steve and Paul sat down to discuss (the extension). The three of us all agreed on it.
“Everybody’s happy because all three of us have a great relationship; positive and very trusting.”
Krebs said the season the Lobos just completed put UNM the national spotlight, which means big bucks for the school.
“While it’s nearly impossible to calculate the financial impact of all the articles and interviews that were conducted on New Mexico basketball, I think it’s fair to say it would be in the millions of dollars,” Krebs said. “All of that publicity places the University of New Mexico in a very positive light.”
Alford, who was named MWC coach of the year for a second straight season, was third in the national coach of the year voting. That got his name tossed into the mix as a possible candidate at other schools, but Alford told the Journal, “I’m a Lobo, and I’m not looking to go anywhere else. I have had inquiries from other schools, but I haven’t returned one phone call, I haven’t talked to anybody else. This is my home. I’m going to be a Lobo for a long time.”
Alford has led the Lobos to postseason play in each of his three seasons, including the second round of this year’s NCAA Tournament. He loses just one senior from this year’s team and will play in one of the top arenas in the country next season in the renovated Pit.
“There are just so many positives happening with Lobo basketball right now,” Alford said. “It’s exciting to be a part of a great program like this, and this is where I want to stay.”