ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The post Steve Alford era honeymoon with the University of New Mexico is over — at least on the money front.
In a letter dated Wednesday, sent via certified mail and email, UNM informed Alford it will seek to hold its now-former men’s basketball coach to a buyout provision that was agreed to last month along with more money and a contract extension designed to keep Alford at UNM for 10 years.
According to UNM’s letter, Alford and the university agreed to and signed the deal on March 18.
It was announced two days later but the formal contract extension with the amended terms had not yet been signed when Alford announced he was leaving to take the head coaching job at UCLA.
The March 18 “term sheet” signed by Alford specifies that, should Alford take another coaching job prior to April 1, 2015, that he or his new employer would owe UNM $1 million.
And UNM said in the Wednesday letter that the term sheet is as valid for purposes of the buyout agreement as a signed contract (which was ready for Alford’s signature on Monday).
Alford has said the buyout provision in his previous contract was $150,000. He has gone out of his way to say how much he liked UNM but that he simply couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take charge of one of the storied programs in college basketball.
While expressing disappointment with the decision after the fanfare of announcing a new agreement, UNM officials had focused on Alford’s successful efforts to rebuild the Lobo program and fan base.
Neither Alford nor his agent responded to the Journal’s requests Wednesday for a comment.
Because the new contract was to have taken effect Monday (April 1), both Alford and Paul Krebs, UNM’s vice president for athletics, said Saturday they didn’t know whether the old or new buyout clause was in effect.
Typically, a coach’s new employer pays the buyout to the coach’s previous school. It has been reported in this instance that UCLA is working with New Mexico and with Alford to pay the buyout.
On Saturday (March 30), Alford informed UNM he had accepted the job as men’s head basketball coach at UCLA.
In Wednesday’s letter, university attorney K. Lee Peifer notes that in all contracts agreed to by Alford and UNM, termination of the contract requires 30 days notice.
“Your communication to (Krebs) constituted notice of your intent to terminate the contract,” the letter states. “Your last day of employment with (UNM) will be April 29, 2013.”
Failure to pay UNM $1 million by that date, the letter concludes, would constitute a breach of Alford’s employment agreement.
“Please contact me, or have your attorney contact me, to arrange for payment,” Peifer writes.
— This article appeared on page A1 of the Albuquerque Journal
Letter from UNM counsel to Steve Alford
Letter from UNM counsel to Steve Alford’s agent
Steve Alford’s signed term sheet