|Alma Mater:||Indiana '87|
Steve Alford has guided UCLA to a 65-40 overall record in three seasons as UCLA’s head coach, helping lead the Bruins to consecutive Sweet 16 appearances in the NCAA Tournament in 2014 and 2015. Alford will enter his fourth season leading the Bruins’ program in 2016-17, his 26th season as a college basketball head coach.
During his first two seasons in Westwood, Alford led UCLA to back-to-back Sweet 16 appearances in addition to helping the Bruins win the 2014 Pac-12 Tournament title. UCLA went 22-14 in 2015, his second season at the helm, before sending Kevon Looney and Norman Powell to the NBA.
Alford helped UCLA send seven players to the NBA through his first two seasons. Looney and Powell were drafted in 2015, while Jordan Adams, Kyle Anderson and Zach LaVine were selected in the first round of the 2014 NBA Draft. In addition, twin brothers Travis Wear and David Wear competed in the NBA in 2014-15 as non-drafted free agents.
During his first year as UCLA’s head coach (2013-14), UCLA advanced to the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16 and won its first Pac-12 Tournament title since 2008. Additionally, the Bruins produced three first-round NBA draft selections for the second time in school history (also occurred in 1979). Alford helped UCLA to a second-place finish in the Pac-12 standings in 2014 and to a fourth-place finish in 2015.
Through 25 seasons as a college head coach, Alford has compiled a 528-275 (.658) overall record. Alford was named the 13th head coach in UCLA men’s basketball history on March 30, 2013, after having excelled the previous six seasons at New Mexico.
Alford’s 28 single-season wins in 2013-14 tied the school record for most victories by a coach in his first season at UCLA (Gene Bartow went 28-4 in 1975-76). The Bruins averaged 81.2 points per game, the program’s highest scoring average since 1997-98 (83.1 ppg), and finished the season with the nation’s 11th-highest scoring average.
With consecutive Sweet 16 berths in his first two seasons, Alford became the fourth coach in program history to have led his first two teams to NCAA regional semifinals (also in that group are Gene Bartow, Gary Cunningham and Steve Lavin). UCLA was one of six teams in the nation to have advanced to the Sweet 16 in 2013-14 and 2014-15 (along with Arizona, Louisville, Kentucky, Michigan State and Wisconsin).
A four-year standout at Indiana (1984-87) and member of the Hoosiers’ 1987 NCAA Championship team, Alford competed in the NBA for four seasons before embarking on his career as a collegiate head coach. He has served as a Division I head coach the past 21 years. After a four-year stint at Manchester College (1992-95), Alford coached at Missouri State (1996-99), Iowa (2000-07) and New Mexico (2008-13).
In 25 seasons as a head coach, Alford’s teams have qualified for the postseason 19 times, including nine NCAA Division I Tournament berths. Alford has led his teams to the postseason in 14 of the last 16 seasons and has reached the 20-win plateau in 13 of his 21 years at the NCAA Division I level. Alford has coached his teams to at least 28 wins in three of the last five seasons and to at least 22 victories in eight of the previous nine years.
Alford has recorded more NCAA victories (528) as a collegiate head coach, age 51 or younger, than any other head coach in the nation. Alford, who turned 51 on Nov. 23, 2015, began his collegiate coaching career at the age of 26 at Manchester College.
Alford guided New Mexico to postseason appearances all six years at New Mexico, including three trips to the NCAA Tournament (2010, 2012, 2013). His teams at New Mexico won at least 22 games in each of six seasons, securing more victories (155), a higher winning percentage (.749) and more regular-season conference titles (4) than any previous New Mexico head coach after six seasons.
Alford earned Mountain West Conference Coach of the Year honors in three of the final five seasons at New Mexico (2009, 2010, 2013). Three of his players at New Mexico secured Mountain West Player of the Year acclaim (J.R. Giddens in 2008, Darington Hobson in 2010, and Kendall Williams in 2013).
Under Alford’s direction, New Mexico won four regular season titles in five years (2009, 2010, 2012, 2013), a streak matched only by Kansas and Gonzaga. New Mexico won the conference regular season and tournament titles in 2012 and 2013, becoming one of five schools in the country to make that claim. New Mexico achieved its two highest single-season win totals with Alford at the helm (30 wins in 2012, 29 wins in 2013). Both the 2010 and 2013 teams secured No. 3-seeds in the NCAA Tournament, tying UNM’s record for the highest-seeded team.
Alford’s teams at New Mexico had similar success in the classroom. He graduated 12 of his 13 seniors, including all three seniors from his final team in 2012-13. New Mexico had compiled a program record 11 consecutive semesters of a 2.7 grade-point average or better through his final season in Albuquerque.
Alford arrived at New Mexico after eight seasons as the head coach at the University of Iowa (2000-07), where he compiled a 152-106 record. He helped guide the Hawkeyes to a school-record seven consecutive winning seasons in addition to six postseason appearances (three NCAA Tournaments) and two Big Ten Conference Tournament titles (2001 and 2006).
As Iowa’s head coach, Alford helped engineer three seasons with 20-plus victories, highlighted by a 25-win season in 2006. Iowa’s 25 victories that year stand as the second-highest single-season win total in program history, five shy of the school-record 30 wins in 1987 under head coach Tom Davis. Alford is responsible for the Hawkeyes’ two highest single-season win totals since 1987 (25 wins in 2006, 23 wins in 2001).
Prior to his service at Iowa, Alford helped engineer the most successful postseason run in school history at Missouri State University (then known to as Southwest Missouri State). His four-year tenure with the Bears was highlighted by the program’s sixth NCAA Division I Tournament appearance in 1999, Missouri State’s first-ever trip to the “Sweet 16” in Alford’s final season at the helm.
Missouri State advanced to the NCAA Division I Tournament for just the sixth time in school history that year, entering the field as the East Regional’s No. 13-seeded team. Alford’s team defeated No. 5-seed Wisconsin (43-32) and No. 4-seed Tennessee (81-51) to advance to the Sweet 16 before losing to top-seeded Duke, 78-61, in the East Regional Semifinal.
Missouri State finished the season 22-11, as Alford had guided the Bears to their second 20-plus win season in three years. Prior to Alford’s arrival in the fall of 1995, Missouri State had not advanced to the NCAA Tournament since 1992. Alford guided Missouri State to a 24-9 record in 1997, including a second-place finish in the Missouri Valley Conference, as the Bears ended their season in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT). Missouri State’s 24 victories that season marked the program’s highest single-season win total since finishing 28-6 in 1987.
In 1992, Alford joined the collegiate coaching ranks at Manchester College (NCAA Division III program in North Manchester, Ind., now known as Manchester University). He took over a team that had lost its first eight games and finished with four wins in 20 contests. One year later, he led the Spartans to a 20-8 mark in his first full year (1992-93).
Alford finished his tenure at Manchester by guiding the Spartans to a 23-4 record in 1994 and to a 31-1 mark in 1995. Each of Alford’s final three teams at Manchester advanced to the NCAA Division III Tournament. The Spartans went 5-1 in the NCAA Tournament in 1995, losing in the national championship contest.
Prior to his coaching career, Alford enjoyed a four-year career in the NBA. He was selected No. 26 overall in the 1987 NBA Draft by the Dallas Mavericks after his senior season at Indiana. Alford played from 1987-91 with the Dallas Mavericks and the Golden State Warriors.
A native of New Castle, Ind., Alford was a prep standout for his father, Sam Alford, at New Castle Chrysler High School. He earned Indiana’s Mr. Basketball Award in 1983 after averaging 37.7 points per game as a senior.
During his collegiate career at Indiana, Alford started 120 of 125 games, helping the Hoosiers compile a 92-35 record over four seasons. Playing under head coach Bob Knight, Alford served as team captain in 1987 when Indiana went 30-4 and won the NCAA Championship.
Alford concluded his college career as Indiana’s all-time scoring leader with 2,438 points (that mark was eclipsed by Calbert Cheaney in 1992-93). He became the first player to win the Indiana MVP four times and led the Hoosiers in scoring all four years. He finished his career as Indiana’s all-time leader in steals (178 steals, now ranks second) and three-point field goal percentage (53.0 percent). Alford was a consensus first-team All-America selection and the Big Ten Conference’s MVP as a senior (1987).
Alford earned first-team All-Big Ten honors in each of his final three seasons and also captured All-America acclaim as a junior. He was named to the NIT All-Tournament Team as a sophomore when the Hoosiers finished second to UCLA. His career free throw percentage of .897 (535-596) ranks ninth-best in NCAA history (was fourth-best when he graduated). Alford led the nation in free throw percentage as a freshman (.913, 137-150).
In 1997, Alford was inducted into the Indiana University Athletics Hall of Fame, and in 2001 he was one of 15 players selected to Indiana’s All-Century Team. He was one of five players named to ESPN’s Big Ten Conference Silver Anniversary Team in 2004. In the Legends of College Basketball by The Sporting News, Alford was No. 35 on the list of the 100 greatest NCAA Division I college basketball players.
Following his freshman season at Indiana, Alford was selected to play for the United States basketball team at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. He shot 64.4 percent from the field and averaged 10.3 points per game, finishing second on the team in assists as the U.S. men’s team won the gold medal. The 1984 USA Olympic Team marked the last U.S. amateur squad to win the gold medal. Alford’s teammates included Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing, Sam Perkins, Chris Mullin and Waymon Tisdale.
Alford earned a bachelor’s degree in business from Indiana University. He is married to the former Tanya Frost, whom he has known since the two were schoolmates in grade school in New Castle, Ind. The Alfords have three children: Kory, Bryce and Kayla.