Bumped. There are lot of troubling questions raised here by Bruingirl that UCLA officials including Chancellor Block and Guerrero must provide answers to immediately. If anyone has any article or quote that shows Alford had issued any kind of apology or shown contrition for the reported/cited incidents below, please share in the comment thread. The questions around this hire are getting more troubling and disconcerting by the day. At the very least UCLA must let go of Guerrero for conducting what appears to be a most unprofessional and pathetic hire that we have ever seen even by UCLA standards from last 30 years. He needs to be terminated immediately. - BN Eds.
Like many of you, I've been reading about our newly hired men's basketball coach's past with escalating concern, now approaching panic. I had begun to accept that we are no longer elite, and must settle for a less than elite coach. However, I simply cannot accept Steve Alford as the new caretaker of Coach Wooden's program-not because of his complete mediocrity as a coach, which is depressing enough, but because of his lack of character and integrity.
To summarize: While he was coaching at Iowa, one of his players, Pierre Pierce, was accused and charged with third-degree sexual assault on a fellow student in Johnson County District Court. Almost immediately, Coach Alford began publicly insisting that Pierce was "innocent." In addition, it has been reported by others, including the D.A. who prosecuted Pierce that Alford enlisted the help of close friend Jim Goodrich, the campus representative for Christian group Athletes in Action who often traveled with the team and conducted bible-study sessions. Per specific instruction from Alford, the victim was invited to what she was told was a "prayer meeting," at which she was urged to back off and not cause problems for a basketball program that could overpower her. It is uncontroverted that the University's subsequent investigative report found here concluded:
(D)While Coach Alford believed he was acting as he had been directed in making the statements he made to the media, one set of those statements--confirming his certainty in Pierce's innocence--implied that he disbelieved and discredited the claims of the student victim, and his words were perceived as reflecting insensitivity to issues of sexual assault and sexual violence. In future, faculty, coaches and other personnel should be given adequate instruction in media discourse. Furthermore, the Committee recommends that in future such situations, all comments with the media regarding the situation should be directed to a designated media spokesperson.
(E) The involvement of the persons affiliated with Athletes in Action in attempting to resolve this matter, while perhaps well-meaning, had unintended consequences for the University community. The desire to facilitate an informal resolution of the matter may have had the opposite result. The Committee recommends that the Athletic Department take steps to limit the involvement of outside advisers, religious or otherwise, in University matters and to maintain the confidentiality of departmental information.
So, while some may consider the reports of "strong-arming" of the victim at Coach Alford's direction as baseless allegation, there does appear to be very strong evidence of subsequent action by the University which confirms that it did indeed occur.
Ultimately, the Prosecutor did not dismiss the original charge against Pierce outright; rather, he was allowed a chance at a deferral. Allegations of sexual misconduct were not dropped, and, in fact, were admitted by the player in his "apology" statement when he pled guilty. Pierce clearly stated that he had "inappropriate sexual contact with a fellow student."
Inference here is inappropriate. It was a deferred sentence, not a dismissed charge. The criminal act was admitted, and it was admitted to have been of a sexual nature. The victim suffered physical injuries, directly addressed in the plea: The allegations to which Pierce pleaded guilty were that he, on or about September 7, 2002, "did an act or acts of physical contact meant to be insulting and/or offensive to another, and which caused injury to the other person, to-wit: the Defendant had unwanted intimate contact with another, which caused the person bruising and lacerations."
So let us not waste time and energy with posits of "he may have been innocent, and Alford was justified in defending his player." He was not. He went on to commit additional crimes against women, also sexual in nature, and eventually served time for them-332 days, including a 4-5 month treatment program for sex offenders. This is the individual Alford went to the wall for...because, as a freshman, he was the team's starting PG.
If you have been reading comments to the post by Nestor about our AD's complete and utter failure to vet Alford before he started throwing millions of dollars at him to woo him away from the 10-year promise he had just made to New Mexico, you may know that I don't believe in any gray area here. Alford publicly defended his player specifically against the allegations and charges. He chose to intervene, using the press to do so. He chose to take a side, against the victim, publicly, in addition to leaving this player on his active roster during the pendency of the case. The responsible thing to do is to suspend the player pending the criminal investigation and process, and to NOT comment on the allegations, victim, process, or character of anyone involved.
To have anyone associated with the school or in any other position of authority defend this criminal publically is a further assault upon and victimization of this victim, and our new coach knowingly did this in pursuit of his own self interest. Alford was in such a position of authority within the university when he did so. He thereby placed the entire university in opposition to this victim. This is reprehensible.
We are all witnessing a complete degradation of our men's basketball program by its own caretakers.
I cannot support this man as a coach, or in any other role, for U.C.L.A. This is travesty and disgrace.