So Steve Alford issued a statement today apologizing for his poor behavior during the Pierre Pierce rape case at the University of Iowa 11 years ago.
First, let's be clear. Somebody or something pretty powerful must have pulled off some of U.C.LA.'s fingernails to get this to happen today. That's very important.
Enter Alford, over a week from blaming his actions on the U of Iowa admin, now doing a 180 and going mea culpa. Yes, it's an apology, and he hits the key points. Set aside the sincerity of the statement for now. Like a prostitute, there may be no feeling in it, but at least there was the desired action. It would have been nice for us Bruins if he had hit those points last week at his introductory press conference when he was asked about it directly. It would have been even better if he had done it 11 year ago to the University of Iowa and to the young victim, both of whom deserve this apology more than anyone else.
But curiously absent form the apologizing act today was one overpaid Athletic Director at U.C.L.A. Dan Guerrero issued a statement of his own which is infuriating in its sanctimony, belittling in its patronizing tone, and further demonstrates he has overstayed his welcome in Westwood.
Basically, Guerrero threw Alford under the bus today. Alford's statement was a humbling piece, acknowledging mistakes, accepting responsibility, and apologizing for his actions, and trying to build bridges to move forward.
Guerrero's piece? Nothing of the sort. He completely separates himself from the issue and doesn't take one atom of responsibility for a furor which has clearly reached a boiling point, because there is no way this would have happened if there were not some major pressure from some major player. Was this DG's idea? Laughable. Did it come from the Chancellor's office? One can hope, but those really aren't his stripes. Is it the Academic Senate? Is it big money donors? Is it a political or activist group? We do not know right now what forced this, but it has to be something pretty big.
What I do know is that with someone breathing enough hot fire down the back of U.C.L.A. to get a reaction, Alford was willing to dive on the grenade while Guerrero turned and ran for the hills.
Here is Dan's statement again...
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.
Never mind his single subject and plural pronoun error in his second sentence, nowhere does Dan accept any responsibility for whatever mounting pressure and outcry made today happen.
Like a condescending bully of a boss, Dan appreciates Alford for taking responsibility, congratulates Alford for learning and growing, and basically warns him about his expectations going forward.
But what about Guerrero's part in this? Where is his responsibility? Where is his apology? Dan hired Steve, when no one else was looking at him. Dan says he knew about his "error in judgement" but it's clear neither Steve nor Dan was ready to deal the question at the introductory presser. If Dan knew about this, why isn't he stepping up and accepting some blame for the rage of Bruin fans? After all, he brought this to Westwood. Yet his statement doesn't include a single word of apology or regret or contrition to Bruin fans. Not one. Way to throw your brand new trophy hire of our most storied athletic program under the bus to save your own skin, Dan
But it won't work, Dan. After today, I'm actually more sympathetic to Alford, and more furious at you. I'll actually give Alford credit, and not for the apology itself since I don't really buy it, but for issuing an apology that most people will recognize was forced, thereby stripping it of sincerity and diminishing any organic good will it might have created. I respect Alford simply for jumping in front of the bullet.
On the other hand, I have even less respect for our athletic director who left Alford to take all the blame and face the mob while he stepped aside and washed his hands. Nice try, Pilate. What Guerrero should have said was something along the lines that he failed to anticipate or appreciate the outcry and anger over the hiring of someone involved with a terrible event 11 years ago at another university, and he is truly sorry for not addressing this up front and that he will never take the legacy and integrity of U.C.L.A. for granted again. But there is nothing remotely like that in his statement today. Just condescension and arrogance and
We don't know all of the events which led to Alford's apology today. I do know that Bruins Nation was hammering Alford and Guerrero (when nobody else was) over the failure to apologize for Alford's role in the Pierce rape case from the first moment he said nothing at the press conference. I do know that a intelligently and beautifully written petition was initiated and circulated by a BN community member and was close to 2,000 signatures a couple days ago. I do know that numerous BN community members called and emailed the AD and the Chancellor's office in the last week. I know the Daily Bruin published an opinion pice today calling on Alford to apologize.
I don't think any one of those actions led to today's statements. But I think the sum of them, along with other pressures, has built up to something big enough to make Morgan Center act. And we know that has to be a pretty big deal. It wasn't just integrity or doing the right thing. Those two failed just over a week ago. It is the outcry over that failure that made today happen, and some pretty loud voices are doing the yelling right now.
All waves start with a ripple, and the tsunami that is crashing on Morgan has made the department crack. Those waves are here because of Dan Guerrero, not Steve Alford. Guerrero hired Alford. Guerrero did not prepare Alford to face tough questions. Guerrero did nothing himself to alleviate the concerns of Bruin fans.
Guerrero created this mess. Steve Alford is standing up to it. His AD has left him there alone to face it.
Welcome to U.C.L.A., Steve. How do you like your new boss now?