New UCLA coach Steve Alford has an interesting buyout clause

Victor Decolongon

Bruins fans better get used to loving new coach Steve Alford, because his buyout clause likely means he won't be leaving any time soon.

Steve Alford has a $10.4 million buyout clause in his contract as the head coach of the UCLA Bruins men's basketball program, according to the LA Times.

Alford's contract isn't available to the public yet, but the LA Times picked up a copy and broke the news on his buyout clause. If Alford decides to leave his contract before April 30, 2016, he will owe UCLA $10.4 million. Likewise, if UCLA cans Alford before the same day, it will owe him the same amount.

The early buyout is more than half the total of what Alford's base salary would pay if he wasn't fired during the duration of the contract. Alford is set to make $2.6 million a year for seven years, a total of $18.2 million.

The buyout was apparently included, according to the report, to make sure Alford didn't do what he did to his previous employers at New Mexico.

By saddling Alford with such a large buyout - more than 10 times what it would have been had he stayed at New Mexico - UCLA is essentially making it impossible for him to do to Westwood what he did to Albuquerque.

Alford put New Mexico back on the basketball map during his six-year tenure with the school, garnering four Mountain West Championships and three NCAA Tournament appearances. Almost immediately after New Mexico's exit from the NCAA Tournament, the school signed Alford to a 10-year extension worth about $540,000 a year.

Lobos' fans had no time to celebrate, however. A mere 10 days after his new contract, Alford stepped away from New Mexico and signed his contract with UCLA.

The monetary scale for an early exit slides down according to the details of his contract, with each side mirroring each other. If Alford voluntary leaves employment with UCLA, he will owe the school the money listed below. If UCLA severs his employment, they will pay his portion of the buyout.

  • $10.4 million if before April 30, 2016
  • $7.8 million if before April 30, 2017
  • $5.2 million if before April 30, 2018
  • $2.6 million if before April 30, 2019

Buyout clauses of this magnitude aren't necessarily a rarity throughout the NCAA, but are generally used more for football coaches. In contrast to that, though, former UCLA coach Ben Howland also had a buyout clause (of $3.2 million).

UCLA might be setting the stage in college hoops for more common buyout clauses. As Fox Sports Midwest points out, 50 Division I schools have had coaching changes in the past three years . Most recently, Butler Bulldogs coach Brad Stevens jumped ship to the Boston Celtics, just three years into a 12-year extension he signed with the school in 2010.

Andy Glockner of Sports Illustrated took to Twitter to support the buyout news, citing the often one-sided nature of the contracts between coaches and schools.

As Glockner pointed out in a post on his blog, even though UCLA gets some security out of the deal, it will also limit its ability to get rid of Alford if the team struggles or the coaching situation doesn't work out, citing Iowa Hawkeyes football coach Kirk Ferentz as an example.

Ferentz's buyout clause states that he is owed 75 percent of his base salary if he is terminated without cause which, last time someone did the math, was approximately $18.8 million.

Having the school on the hook for such extraordinary payments to terminate a coach basically ensures Alford will be in Westwood for at least five seasons, and maybe six. There is no way UCLA is going to pay almost $8 million to fire him, and even more than $5 million may feel heavy even if things are not going well.

All of this chatter might be for naught in the end, however, as Alford is just the fourth UCLA men's coach in the past 25 years. Either way, though Bruins fans better get used to him on the sidelines because he probably won't be going anywhere anytime soon.

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