After Steve Alford’s hire as the new basketball coach at UCLA, Dan Bernstein of CBS Chicago — a rare fearless broadcast journalist — did a devastating piece on how Alford, while coaching at Iowa in 2002, had invoked Jesus in a pressure campaign to get the victim of a heinous rape by his basketball player Pierre Pierce not to press charges. (She persisted and Pierce eventually entered a guilty plea.)
I tweeted the link but didn’t blog it. Here it is: “Bernstein UCLA Hired a Scumbag,” March 31, http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2013/03/31/bernstein-ucla-hired-a-scumbag/.
Want more? Here’s Alford in an interview on Bernstein’s radio show in 2003 (go to the 3:40 mark): http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2013/04/03/listen-steve-alfords-2003-interview-with-the-boers-bernstein-show/?utm_medium=VPH&utm_source=topvph_sports&utm_campaign=44328.
And: “Bernstein: Alford Already Lying at UCLA,” April 3, http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2013/04/03/bernstein-alford-already-lying-at-ucla/.
Today Alford and UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero issued apologetic statements.
Over the past week, questions have arisen about my handling of an incident involving a charge of sexual assault made against a student-athlete in 2002, while I was coach of the University of Iowa men’s basketball team. At that time, I instinctively and mistakenly came to his defense before knowing all the facts. I wanted to believe he was innocent, and in response to a media question, I publicly proclaimed his innocence before the legal system had run its course. This was inappropriate, insensitive and hurtful, especially to the young female victim involved, and I apologize for that. I have learned and grown from that experience and now understand that such proclamations can contribute to an atmosphere in which similar crimes go unreported and victims are not taken seriously. It’s important for me personally and professionally to make sure Chancellor Block, Athletic Director Dan Guerrero, all of my student-athletes and the entire UCLA community, including our fans, understand that today I would handle the situation much differently, with the appropriate regard and respect for the investigative process and those impacted by it. I look forward to being a Bruin and leading a program that everyone will take pride in, both on and off the court.
I appreciate and respect Steve Alford’s statement on this issue. Everyone has regrets in their past, but acknowledging them and learning from them shows true character. I was aware of this situation when we hired Steve and concluded that although he made an error in judgment 11 years ago, he had learned and grown from that experience. Our evaluation was based on his entire career, both on and off the court, and that is what led us to make our decision that he was the right coach for UCLA. Steve came to us with a tremendous reputation and record in New Mexico, and I am excited to see how he can build on and grow our men’s basketball program at UCLA. I expect all of our coaches to serve as an example to our student-athletes and the entire Bruin family, displaying true character and strong values. Working with Steve over the last two weeks I am confident that he will demonstrate the leadership we expect of all our coaches.