Steve Alford would rather be preparing Southwest Missouri State for the Final Four. But instead he settled for being named new men's basketball coach at Iowa.
Alford was introduced as Tom Davis' successor at a news conference this afternoon in Iowa City.
Alford guided 12th-seeded SW Missouri State to the Sweet 16 before losing Friday to Duke, 78-61, in the East Region semifinals.
"It's very exciting to be back in the Big Ten," Alford said.
Davis also guided Iowa to the Sweet 16, but the Hawkeyes lost to Connecticut, 78-68, on Thursday. Nearly a year ago, Iowa told Davis it would not renew his contract, making this the last of his 13 seasons at the school.
"I wish the timing was such that a decision wouldn't have to be made right away because there's not a lot of time to cherish what happened with this team," Alford, 34, said after his team lost 78-61 Friday to top-ranked Duke in the NCAA regional semifinals. He has a 78-48 career record with the Bears.
Alford called Iowa "one of only four or five programs in the country I would consider leaving SMS for."
| After a lot of serious thought, Steve Alford decided on Iowa. (AP)|
Iowa Athletic Director Bob Bowlsby announced last April that coach Tom Davis' contract would not be extended past this season, his 13th at Iowa.
Both Davis and Alford guided their teams to two victories in the NCAA tournament before dropping regional semifinal contests. Iowa lost 78-68 to Connecticut.
Alford, a one-time star at Indiana, said the financial package at Iowa would double his income at Southwest Missouri State, which has been estimated around $200,000.
"Business is only one part of it," Alford said. "Whatever happens has to be right for me personally and right for my family."
Southwest Missouri State President John Keiser said he was sorry to see Alford leave, but "We thank him for giving us a program that will be attractive enough to get another good coach."
GO TO MARCH MAYHEM
©1998 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed