The man apparently tasked with maintaining Nevada’s spot atop the Mountain West is no stranger to the conference.
Steve Alford, who has had successful stops at four Division I schools, was in final contract negotiations Wednesday with Nevada about its head-coaching vacancy, per a tweet from CBS' Jon Rothstein. Nevada Sports Net earlier reported the Wolf Pack had trimmed its list to Alford or Trent Johnson, the Wolf Pack coach from 1999-2004 who athletic director Doug Knuth visited with Wednesday morning in Southern California. The Athletic's Seth Davis first reported Alford as a "serious candidate."
Alford would come to Nevada following a five-plus-year run at UCLA, which came to an end on New Year’s Eve when the Bruins fired the 54-year-old coach. Alford was 124-63 at UCLA and reached four NCAA Tournaments, including three Sweet 16 berths. Alford’s lone Pac-12 title came in the 2014 tournament.
Alford had huge success during his first run in the MW as New Mexico’s head coach. He posted a 155-52 overall record and 68-26 mark in six seasons in the MW, winning regular-season titles in 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2013 and tournament crowns in 2012 and 2013. His Lobos teams finished in the top 10 in the final AP poll twice and reached three NCAA Tournaments, going 2-3 with two second-round appearances. New Mexico earned two threes seeds and a fifth seed during Alford’s tenure.
Alford also had stints at Iowa (152-106, three NCAA Tournament berths in eight seasons) and Missouri State (126-78, one Sweet 16 in four seasons) after starting his career at Manchester University, a Division II school in Indiana he turned around. Overall, Alford has won 66.3 percent of his games as a college coach (587-298). Alford had great recruiting success at UCLA, luring top-five ranked recruiting classes that included five five-star recruits during his tenure. He had seven players picked in the NBA draft's first round.
Terms of Alford’s contract at Nevada are unknown, but he received a big payday after being fired by UCLA, getting a $4.4 million haul that included a percent of his 2018-19 salary ($2.6 million) as well as the $3.6 million buyout due, per his contract. Alford's salary at New Mexico peaked around $1.25 million annually. A contract in that range at Nevada would surpass the $1 million the Wolf Pack paid Eric Musselman on his latest contract.
Alford also was reportedly a candidate for the Arkansas job that eventually went to Musselman on Saturday. Alford was a star college player at Indiana where he led the Hoosiers to a national championship in 1987. He was the No. 26 pick of the 1987 NBA draft and spent four years in the league before beginning his coaching career.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story said the deal was done and would be announced Thursday, the article has been amended to reflect the current status of the negotiations .