By Luke Meredith
DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa coach Steve Alford told his players during a team meeting Thursday that he is leaving to take over at New Mexico.
“Things came up, and this is the decision he had to make,” senior guard Mike Henderson said. “He’s going to New Mexico.”
Alford, a former star at Indiana, had a 152-106 record in eight seasons at Iowa. He led the Hawkeyes to three NCAA tournament appearances, but Iowa won just one NCAA tournament game under his leadership. Last season, the Hawkeyes were upset by 14th-seeded Northwestern State in the opening round.
Iowa finished 17-14 this season, missing out on postseason play. Athletic director Gary Barta said last week next year’s team “just needed to be better than we were this year.”
“Coach has a great opportunity to go somewhere else. It’s a great move on his behalf. I know he’s happy and excited,” senior guard Adam Haluska said. “It sounds like the best move for him and his family right now.”
Alford has been mentioned as a candidate at New Mexico since coach Ritchie McKay was fired after five seasons. McKay, who had three years remaining on his contract, was 82-65 in five seasons, including a dismal 8-41 road record.
Iowa players said Alford wanted a new start after eight seasons in Iowa City.
“He wanted to get his family out of this negative environment,” center Seth Gorney said.
New Mexico athletics department spokesman Greg Remington said there likely would be a news conference Friday in Albuquerque.