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Editorial: Alford owes communities public apology for poor handling of Iowa situation


The issue

During his introductory press conference, new men's basketball coach Steve Alford dismissed a question about his handling of a sexual assault case involving one of his players 11 years ago.

Our stance

Alford did not display the character and integrity expected of a UCLA basketball coach. We urge him to publicly apologize for his handling of the Iowa situation both there and at UCLA.

Steve Alford passed up a golden opportunity for a fresh start at UCLA.

During the April 2 press conference introducing Alford as the 13th coach of the men’s basketball team, his answer to the second question of the day could have set him on the right path.

The question addressed Alford’s handling of a sexual assault case involving one of his players 11 years ago.

In his response, Alford avoided responsibility for his actions and said that he had only done what the University of Iowa instructed – a claim that the university’s administration has contested.

This board calls on Alford to do what he should have done many years ago and again at last week’s press conference: make a public apology. He owes that, at least, to the community of the University of Iowa.

Many will still find an apology disingenuous but here at UCLA we expect better than what Alford has offered thus far. An apology is the right thing to do.

The story of how Alford repeatedly proclaimed standout player Pierre Pierce’s innocence in the sexual assault case involving a fellow University of Iowa student re-emerged on March 31 with a column in CBS Chicago that was critical of Alford’s handling of the situation.

The column described Alford’s tie to a campus organization that “contacted the victim to seek an informal resolution of the matter by asking the victim to meet informally for prayer with the perpetrator,” according to a 2003 report by the University of Iowa that investigated the situation.

A recent story in the Orange County Register took issue with how Alford continued to publicly state Pierre’s innocence even after evidence to the contrary was brought forth.

Alford must have known that the question would come up in the press conference and his persistent deflection of personal blame makes his answer at the press conference unacceptable.

By passing the buck to the University of Iowa and trying to exonerate himself in the situation, Alford only made the situation worse. He has now hurt at least two communities: the University of Iowa’s and UCLA’s.

Our coaches are often measured by an understandably unfair standard: John Wooden, a model human being. If there’s one word to describe Wooden, it’s “integrity.”

Alford knew that going into this. He grew up in Wooden’s backyard and came to coach the program Wooden made great.

All of this only makes Alford’s actions more disappointing. We expect integrity and Alford did not display it.

With a chance to open a new chapter in the storied history of UCLA men’s basketball, Alford’s response to the question about the Pierce case was simply a cop-out.

Not only is a public apology the right thing for Alford to give, it is also necessary in order for him to have a chance of earning the respect of the UCLA community.

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Unsigned editorials represent the majority opinion of the editorial board.


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  • greg

    Like it or not, Bruins Nation made this exact argument a week ago.

    • maze949

      So what? The apology occurred after this Editorial, not the usual kneejerk reactions from Murshed and Ty-diddles–that site is pitiful; no one takes it seriously.

  • B.F.

    You are about 10 days late with this one DB… Please don’t be afraid to lead the charge in the future. You are the loudest voice of our community and we expect and depend on you to be at the front of such issues.

  • Dontlikeyou

    You can either be an Alfred hater or a Bruin fan but please don’t be both. Start up your campaign to fire Alfred but let’s let the Bruins play basketball without idiot fans trashing the program or the coach, or the players for that matter. Look back 11 years, if you did absolutely nothing wrong and didn’t hurt your integrity then go on, keep bashing…

    • raspberries

      Steve ALFORD. you go to college?

    • not much of a loss

      One can certainly be a bruin fan and at the same time look down on someone who protected a rapist, and by some accounts, tried to have the victim dissuaded from pressing charges. While my behavior hasn’t been perfect over the past 11 years, I haven’t done anything as sinister as what he did to that rape victim.

  • Bruin for life

    Thank you B.D. I was supportive of Coach Steve Alford when he got hired but when I saw and heard his response to the question about the incident in Iowa, I was shocked. I DO NOT want A COACH who will not accept responsibility for his actions, right or wrong. HOW CAN we expect him to lead by example when he sends the wrong message with his actions or responses.
    I would have gladly kept Coach Ben Howland and dealt with other issues than hire a coach who will lie and cheat at any price to protect a RAPIST.
    FIRE HIM NOW if that is his attitude.

  • bruinlover

    So, let me ask you a question, does ucla ever plan to apologize for wooden and his cheating buddy Sam Gilbert? Most everyone knows it, but ucla, the alumni and their fans hide their heads in the sand pretend that wooden did not cheat. He did. He had Gilbert pay for the players. That is how ucla won, or did the sec thing, and buy all ten championships. On top of that house of cards you call the praymid of success, the top card should read and naturally from wooden, stating the grand finally , “If you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin”. Ucla is the biggest hypocrit in the world. Your tee shirt that should be sold in the thrift store should read, “Chumps are made here”.

    • raspberries

      please check your spelling.

    • Not the same

      Sure, there’s probably a bit of shady history there, but I think there’s an ethical boundary between “I’m going to ignore NCAA regulations and help out basketball players materially” and “My star player is accused of rape, so I’m going to publicly defend him and criticize the victim, and I’m going to try to have a friend pressure the victim into not filing charges”. While both may be unethical, the one that hurts the rape victim is substantially worse.

  • http://www.facebook.com/JamesGordonPatterson James Gordon Patterson

    Yikes. I’m good with Greg Byrne, Sean Miller, and Rich Rodriguez. Come on UCLA, we already have one outlaw school in the PAC12 in Assu. Don’t be that guy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/saul.shapiro.311 Saul Shapiro

    I was the Daily Bruin sports editor in 1972-73, an Iowa daily newspaper editor for 24 years, my two daughters graduated from Iowa while Alford was there and I also served on the communications advisory board at Iowa during his tenure. The Daily Bruin editorial is on target. Suffice it to say, Alford was not popular among students, faculty and much of the Iowa populace for a variety of reasons that go beyond his handling of the Pierre Pierce case (the plummeting attendance figures at what was a basketball-crazy school would indicate as much). Read the comments section on the CBSChicago Sports blog for an indication. His departure to New Mexico was largely cheered. So I was incredulous when Dan Guerrero maintained he had thoroughly vetted Alford — and still am. When I posted my concerns/outrage online, I had responses from New Mexico fans about how well respected Alford was there (save for running out on his new contract) and had turned the turned their program around. I hope for the sake of my alma mater that’s true.