New Mexico’s Steve Alford set to become UCLA’s men’s basketball coach

New Mexico Lobos head coach Steve Alford reacts to the win over the UNLV Rebels following the championship game of the Mountain West tournament at the Thomas & Mack Center. The Lobos defeated the Rebels 63-56. (Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports)

New Mexico Lobos head coach Steve Alford reacts to the win over the UNLV Rebels following the championship game of the Mountain West tournament at the Thomas & Mack Center. The Lobos defeated the Rebels 63-56. (Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports)

In what is simultaneously a major coup for UCLA and a huge blow to New Mexico’s future, basketball coach Steve Alford shocked the Lobos’ brass and accepted the vacant head coaching position with the Bruins, according to Andy Katz of ESPN.

Following UCLA’s Round of 64 exit from the 2013 NCAA Tourney, the athletic department decided to part ways with Ben Howland, who had been at the helm of the program for 10 years and led the Bruins to three Final Four appearances.

At first, the school had set its sights upon Shaka Smart of VCU and Brad Stevens at Butler. However, both superstar young basketball minds decided to stay put at their relatively smaller schools.

No one was sure where the school was going to turn at that point, and New Mexico believed they had locked their coach up long term. In fact, he had recently signed a 10-year extension after leading the Lobos to the Mountain West regular season championship in 2009, ’10, ’12 and ’13 as well as the conference tournament championship in ’12 and ’13.

Prior to his time with New Mexico, Alford was at Iowa from 1999-2007, winning the Big Ten title in 2001 and 2006.

His overall record as a coach stands at 463–235, but he will be held to an even higher standard now that he has moved to one of the most historically decorated programs in college basketball history.