Former Iowa men’s basketball coach Steve Alford said in a statement released by UCLA today that he “instinctively and mistakenly” came to the defense of Pierre Pierce before he knew all the facts behind Pierce’s involvement in a 2002 sexual assault case against another student-athlete. He also said that his reponse “was inappropriate, insensitive and hurtful, especially to the young female victim involved, and I apologize for that.”
In the same release, UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero said, “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.”
At a news conference last week introducing Alford as the new coach at UCLA, reporter Scott Reid of the Orange County Register asked Alford, “You’ve talked a lot about (legendary UCLA basketball coach John) Wooden and how he’s shaped you and (how you try to follow) his values. Do you think he would have handled the Pierre Pierce case the way you did. And in 2003 you gave an interview in which you said the whole Pierce episode made Pierre stronger. Do you think the whole episode made the victim stronger?”
Alford responded, “Well, that was an instance that happened years ago at the University of Iowa and all I can tell you with that situation is I followed everything that the University of Iowa administration and the lawyers that were hired, I did everything I was supposed to do at the University of Iowa in that situation. I followed everything that I was told to do.”
That response set off a firestorm of criticism in Iowa, both in media and public avenues.
After Alford’s comments, the University of Iowa issued the following statement last week:
“In December 2002, then interim UI president Willard “Sandy” Boyd charged an ad hoc committee with the responsibility to investigate the university’s role in the resolution of the criminal case involving former IU student-athlete Pierre Pierce. We stand by the results of the report as issued in April 2003. No additional comments will be made at this time.” Here is that report.
Here is Alford’s statement released today:
“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 (Gene) 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.”
Here is UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero’s statement:
“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.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball