SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Coach Steve Alford and UNM have agreed to a 10-year contract starting April 1 that will keep him in charge of the Lobo basketball team through the 2022-23 season.
The new deal with incentives, base salary and total compensation could have Alford earning as much as $2 million per season.
“We want him to be here at the University of New Mexico a long time,” said UNM athletic director Paul Krebs. “Steve’s done a tremendous job — not only in wins and losses, but in graduation rate, presence in community, the good will. Look at all the national publicity about the program we’ve been receiving and he’s been a very good representative of this university in this time.”
The agreement is in principal at this point as a final contract has yet to be signed. Should Alford stay through the duration of the terms agreed to, he would be the longest tenured men’s basketball coach in UNM history.
Alford will see a $240,000 increase in his base salary and compensation package that already earns him more than $1 million per year. And that’s before more than $625,000 in available bonuses kick in. Krebs said those incentives have been adjusted in the new contract. There is also $65,000 available toward pay increases for assistant coaches.
Krebs said none of the pay increase will be coming from student fees or state funds, instead it will originate from revenue the basketball program has generated. Also, per the agreement, Alford cannot ask for a pay increase in the next four years, and the contract could be extended each year thereafter so it will never be less than a six-year contract at a given time.
The Lobos arrived in Salt Lake City on Tuesday in preparation for their Thursday NCAA Tournament game with Harvard at 7:50 p.m.
Maybe most pleasing to Lobo fans is the hefty buyout clause protecting the program if Alford were to void the deal and leave UNM, which he has said time and again he has no intention of doing. Should Alford void the contract before the end of the 2014-15 season, UNM would be owed $1 million. Should he choose to leave before April 1, 2017, he would owe the university $500,00. His buyout thereafter would be $300,000.
Alford’s new base salary will be in the $540,000 range. Other adjustments will be made to the current contract terms that includes $600,000 in “other compensation,” $100,000 in deferred compensation paid into a retirement account and more than $625,000 in available bonuses (called “incentives” in the contract) that reward him for meeting various on and off court performance goals.
“Based on the conversations we’ve had, Steve has no intention of leaving, but he’s a leader that we certainly wanted to reward for everything he’s done for the program,” Krebs said. “I think our focus was keeping Steve at New Mexico. If you saw what happened in Las Vegas last week (at the Mountain West Conference tournament, where an estimated 8-10,000 fans showed up to support the team), it’s obvious just how important University of New Mexico basketball is to the university and the entire state.”
Three of the 14 existing contract performance bonuses were deleted from the contract: a $10,000 bonus apiece for the Lobos reaching 20 wins in a season (they have 29 entering Thursday’s NCAA Tournament game), the team having a final strength of schedule ranked in the top 100 (it was ranked No. 2 this season) and the team finishing the season with a top 50 RPI ranking (it is No. 2).
Six other incentives were increased or otherwise altered for Alford:
- • Win a Mountain West Championship – $50,000 (was $30,000)
- • Win the Mountain West tournament – $50,000 (was $30,000)
- • Reach the Sweet Sixteen – $60,000 (was $50,000)
- • Reach the Elite Eight – $75,000 (was $50,000)
- • Reach the Final Four – $125,000 (was $100,000)
- • Beat a Top 25 team at time of game – $15,000 (was a top 20 specification with an unlimited number of bonuses available per season but now caps at three such bonuses in a season)
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