- Myron Medcalf, ESPN Staff Writer
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If Steve Alford decides to leave the UCLA Bruins or is fired in coming years, a rare yet significant buyout penalty will accompany the move.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the new Bruins coach would owe the university $10.4 million if he departed the school before April 30, 2016, the same amount the school would owe Alford if he was terminated without cause before that time.
Each successive year, the buyout would be reduced for the respective parties by $2.6 million -- his annual salary -- through 2019.
Buyouts are typical components in coaching contracts. For the school, they offer security, as coaches must weigh the sum they'll owe if they take another job before the expiration of their respective contracts.
But a buyout in the range of $10 million is uncommon and perhaps unrivaled, especially among powerhouse programs.
Rick Pitino's contract with Louisville does not contain a buyout clause. Bill Self's $52 million deal with Kansas also lacks a buyout provision. John Calipari would owe the University of Kentucky $1 million if he chose to leave the program before 2014.
The new 10-year, $20 million contract that Iowa State's Fred Hoiberg signed earlier this year contains a $2 million buyout if the Cyclones coach leaves the program for another school and a $500,000 buyout if he takes a job with an NBA team.
"We wanted the commitment to be strong on both sides," UCLA senior associate athletic director Mark Harlan told the Times on Monday. "We didn't want him going anywhere."
The terms could prove to be problematic for the school if it decides to make a move in the near future. Georgia Tech was forced to pay former coach Paul Hewitt a $7.2 million sum when it fired him in 2011. Minnesota paid Tubby Smith $2.5 million when it fired him in March.
But the deal also limits Alford, who'd seemingly find it difficult -- if not impossible -- to attract a new employer willing to pay the buyout to acquire his services.
The presumed contractual security for both UCLA and Alford, however, suggests that this marriage will be long-term. For weeks, Alford wrestled with New Mexico officials over a $1 million buyout that was included in a term sheet he signed 10 days before he accepted the UCLA job.
He will not have similar leeway during this tenure with the Bruins. It appears the university is interested in a lengthy relationship, too.
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