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Steve Alford's controversial start stuns UCLA

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10:19 AM ET 05.19 | UCLA and Steve Alford. What could go wrong? Plenty. When the news conference was over, what was supposed to be a breezy, feel-good event quickly turned sticky and uncomfortable. During a one-on-one interview, Iowa came up. Alford, who coached the Hawkeyes for eight seasons, was asked about his staunch defense of Pierre Pierce, a player accused of sexually assaulting another student in 2002. "I totally believe he's innocent," Alford had said at the Big Ten Conference's basketball media day that year. "I believed it from Day One, and I still believe it." Days later, Pierce, a star guard, agreed to plead guilty to misdemeanor assault and also sit out one basketball season. Now, asked to explain his actions and comments so many years later, Alford took a defensive stance after the news conference last month. He said he had handled the situation the way his bosses at Iowa had instructed him to. "I really didn't do anything," he said. "The university made the call on everything." So, they told him to say Pierce was innocent? "When those comments came out, it was just about supporting your player," he said sternly. "But you have no idea what's going on." UCLA athletic administrators were stunned. They had signed Alford to a seven-year, $18.2-million contract with the expectation that his hiring would invigorate an apathetic fan base. They expected him to be greeted with open arms. Guerrero was also questioned -- about whether UCLA had properly vetted its new coach and investigated what happened at Iowa. He said he "clearly discussed" the Pierce situation with Alford before hiring him. However, when Alford was asked a similar question, he said the topic never came up. Guerrero later amended his comment, saying he discussed Pierce with his staff and Alford's representatives, but not with Alford.

Los Angeles Times

Dan Guerrero, Steve Alford, Victor Decolongon/Getty Images Dan Guerrero, Steve Alford, Victor Decolongon/Getty Images
May 19, 2013  11:13 AM ET

He-said She-said. This is just not interesting.

May 19, 2013  11:18 AM ET

Good grief. This thread info is like reading "War and Peace" for those of us that are only functionally literate!

May 19, 2013  12:17 PM ET

Yawn!!!! This old man is going back to bed!!!!!

May 19, 2013  12:35 PM ET
QUOTE(#3):

Yawn!!!! This old man is going back to bed!!!!!

Pee first.

May 19, 2013  12:40 PM ET

Really what he should do is just respond, "that's no longer relevant, next question."

May 19, 2013  12:46 PM ET
QUOTE(#4):

Pee first.

Why??? I have my depends on!!!! :-)

Comment #7 has been removed
May 19, 2013  01:20 PM ET
QUOTE(#7):

Well DC, here they are at odds again. They didn't listen to your good advise yesterday about trying to be at evens.

Yeah, they're just like my family. They don't listen either!

May 19, 2013  01:23 PM ET

Two less than flattering threads about Alford in as many days. Someone got an axe to grind?

Comment #10 has been removed
May 19, 2013  07:29 PM ET
QUOTE(#10):

UCLA BBall= UTx CFB

LOL, UCLA has been down the last 3/4 years, but they are still better than most basketball teams in the SEC, excluding Kentucky!!! You have to remember that UCLA lost quite a few, "one and two and done" over the last 3/4 years!!!

May 19, 2013  07:33 PM ET
QUOTE(#10):

UCLA BBall= UTx CFB

LOL, why are you comparing a college basketball program to a college football program??? That is like comparing a basketball program to a hockey program!!! :-)

May 19, 2013  08:51 PM ET

Yet another completely fabricated 'news' item... this is trash, not journalism. Good grief.

May 19, 2013  09:45 PM ET

Alford will do just fine at UCLA.
He is relatively young and his players like him.

May 19, 2013  10:27 PM ET

he better win quick with this huge money they are paying him---if not, ucla will run him out of town in 2-3 years---book it

May 20, 2013  12:13 AM ET

Just one of those things that happens when you intimidate a rape victim and bully her into silence while protecting her assailant. Steve's got a thick shell though, he handled all the criticism at Iowa over his transgressions, and this will likely die down in a couple of months.

May 20, 2013  01:27 AM ET

That's what Alford/UCLA get for ****-ing UNM.

Karma's a mother ****-er.

May 20, 2013  02:56 AM ET

Alford is entitled to his opinion. What does his opinion of a player's alleged sexual assault 10 years ago have to do with his new job? Nothing. Alford was not the prosecutor, judge, etc. He was a coach. Maybe the player is innocent. Why would this have anything to do with Alford's move from New Mexico to UCLA?

May 20, 2013  02:57 AM ET
QUOTE(#17):

That's what Alford/UCLA get for ****-ing UNM.Karma's a mother ****-er.

Marlin's Fan - UCLA did not EFF UNM. Coaches move up all the time. Why would this move up to a larger program be any different for Alford?

 
May 20, 2013  10:12 AM ET
QUOTE(#18):

Alford is entitled to his opinion. What does his opinion of a player's alleged sexual assault 10 years ago have to do with his new job? Nothing. Alford was not the prosecutor, judge, etc. He was a coach. Maybe the player is innocent. Why would this have anything to do with Alford's move from New Mexico to UCLA?

He intimidated the rape victim, he went to her and told her she shouldn't cross him or the basketball team. This isn't Boehim sticking up for an assistant with moral support.

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