One of the biggest criticisms of the hiring of UCLA basketball coach Steve Alford was that he once defended a tried-and-true rapist during his time at Iowa. Iowa fans still hate him to this day, and the history that resurfaced has troubled UCLA fans everywhere.
To add on to that, Alford seemed anything but regretful, claiming he had only done what was asked by the University of Iowa. That hurt his cause even further, painting him as a narcissistic rape-enabler.
Now, he's stepping back, and taking the right steps to move forward as UCLA basketball coach. The statement, after the jump.
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.
If you want the shorter version, Alford basically said he jumped the gun in defending the rapist because he was his player, and apologized for doing so.
Whiel some will say it's too late for him to do so, these are the necessary steps to take so that Alford can be judged on his coaching abilities, not his character. Sure, the female victim and her family will not be healed by this, but it helps to know that there's a bit of closure and it's nice knowing Alford is regretful. Or at least is trying to be.
This is going to go a long way at UCLA, because though the statement came a bit late, it let's us know that Alford doesn't think he did everything the way he should have. Aside from that blemish — a rather large blemish, we'll admit — Alford's run teams with a clean record. We aren't defending him, and we know time doesn't heal all things, but in the context of UCLA basketball, I think we can move on.
See you on the court, Alford.