UCLA announced Saturday that it hiredSteve Alford as its men's basketball head coach. Alford, 48, was the head coach at New Mexico for the past six years, with stops at Iowa and Southwest Missouri State before guiding the Lobos. Alford agreed to a 10-year contract extension at New Mexico just 10 days prior to accepting the UCLA job.

"It really came down to having an opportunity to go to UCLA, the pinnacle of college basketball," Alford said. "It's one of those lifetime opportunities that is really difficult to pass up."

A former All-American basketball player at Indiana, Alford has 463 career wins as a head coach. He replaces Ben Howland, who was fired by UCLA after the Bruins' opening-round loss to Minnesota in the NCAA tournament last week. Alford's deal is reportedly for seven years at $2.6 million per year.

Shaka Smart of Virginia Commonwealth and Brad Stevens of Butler both reportedly turned down the job before it was offered to Alford.

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