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College notebook: UCLA hires Alford, USC eyes Fla. Gulf Coast coach

| Saturday, March 30, 2013, 8:33 p.m.
New Mexico coach Steve Alford directs his team against Colorado State in the first half Feb. 23, 2013, in Fort Collins, Colo.

LOS ANGELES — Steve Alford was hired as UCLA's basketball coach on Saturday, spurning New Mexico days after he agreed to a new 10-year deal with the Lobos for a chance to run what he called “the premier basketball program in the country.”

The Bruins are bringing in someone who shares the same Indiana roots as John Wooden, who led UCLA to a record 10 national championships, including seven in a row, before retiring in 1975. Alford learned about Wooden as a first-grader in Martinsville, Ind., where his father, Sam, coached the high school basketball team at Wooden's alma mater.

“Ever since then, there was a draw to find out more about him,” Alford said on a teleconference. “I know my first steps into Pauley I will really feel that.”

Alford agreed to a seven-year deal worth $18.2 million, with a yearly salary of $2.6 million and a $200,000 signing bonus, according to UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero.

Alford's deal with New Mexico, scheduled to take effect Monday, was worth more than $20 million over 10 years.

Alford, 48, succeeds Ben Howland, who was fired last weekend after 10 years and a 233-107 record that included three consecutive Final Four appearances and four Pac-12 titles.

Alford had a 155-52 record in six years at New Mexico, with the Lobos making three trips to the NCAA Tournament.

The Lobos didn't just lose Alford, they also won't have his son, Bryce, on their roster next season. Alford said his highly touted son would follow him to Westwood.

Krebs said it was clear when he talked to Alford on Saturday morning that his mind was made up, and although he's disappointed, he said he respected the decision.

Krebs said it was like a “bomb dropped in the room” when Alford told his players he was leaving.

“This is a very emotional time,” Krebs said. “There is no good way to break the news to the young men in the program. ... There's a lot of raw emotion right now.”

Report: USC courting FGCU coach

USC is targeting Florida Gulf Coast coach Andy Enfield to fill its coaching vacancy, according to a Yahoo Sports report.

Enfield, in his second season, guided the Eagles to the Sweet 16 in the program's first NCAA tourney appearance this year.

A source said talks between the school and coach are expected to begin this weekend.

Saunders turns down Gopher offer

ESPN analyst and former NBA coach Flip Saunders turned down an offer from Minnesota to be the next coach at his alma mater, according to an ESPN report.

Minnesota is searching to fill a vacancy created when Tubby Smith was fired last week after the Gophers lost to Florida in the NCAA Tournament.

Western Kentucky to join C-USA

Western Kentucky will join Conference USA next year, likely replacing Tulsa as the league's 14th member, according to a CBS Sports report.

Tulsa is on its way to the old Big East. C-USA, which has lost several schools to the old Big East, also added Florida Atlantic and Middle Tennessee State in November.

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