To: Chancellor Gene Block, Regents of the University of California
Hold UCLA’s Athletic Director Accountable for Hiring a Reported Rape Apologist as Basketball Coach
Immediately fire Athletic Director Dan Guerrero for hiring a rape apologist as the men’s basketball coach.
Why is this important?
On March 30th Athletic Director Dan Guerrero (who earns a reported $750,000) hired Steve Alford as UCLA’s men’s basketball coach. Dan Guerrero either disregarded Mr. Alford’s history of defending a sex offender or did little to no research into Mr. Alford’s past. Either way, by hiring Mr. Alford, Dan Guerrero has brought dishonor and disgrace to a proud university.
UCLA is a university whose history, athletic and academic, has always stood for progressive values of equality, honor, and integrity. By hiring. Mr. Alford, Mr. Guerrero has shown that he is either incapable of doing a thorough vetting of a candidate, indifferent to the victims of sexual assault, or could care less about the university. Sexual assault related problems are serious problems on college campuses and it is abhorrent to have someone with Alford's background be in such prominent leadership position at U.C.L.A.
Mr. Alford was the men’s basketball coach at the University of Iowa in 2002 when his star point guard, Pierre Pierce, was accused and charged with 3rd degree sexual assault on a female student-athlete. Alford began publicly insisting 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.” Mr. Alford went out of his way to defend his player, trying to shield a violent criminal from justice and to intimidate the victim of the sex crime. A report carried out by the University of Iowa, found that “one set of those statements, 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.” The Chicago Tribune reported “Sources close to the victim say that hearing Alford go out of his way to defend the moral fiber of Pierce these past few months, and turning it into another one of his all-for-one sermons was, in fact, the most painful aspect of trying to move on.” The case ended in a plea agreement to a charge of assault. The player apologized for “inappropriate sexual conduct with a fellow student”.
The culture of defending rapists, in sports and in other places, should never be acceptable. In this case like in so many others, the victim becomes the target of authorities that are trying to protect their institutions, their teams, their own success. In this case Coach Alford, instead of revealing the character of a man who is capable of leading young men, defended the horrific actions of his player against a young woman. He tried to protect his star player, further harming this young female athlete. Is this the kind of man that should be leading a team of young men at UCLA? Dan Guerrero seems to think so. He hired him.
Alford has yet to make a public apology for what he did in this case as far as we can find. At his UCLA press conference, when asked about his handling of this case he replied “Well, that was an instance that happened years ago at the University of Iowa and all I can tell you with that situation is I followed everything that the University of Iowa, the administration, the lawyers that were hired, I did everything that I was supposed to do at the University of Iowa in that situation. I followed everything that I was told to do.” Eleven years later, Alford still refuses to take responsibility or show any contrition.
Dan Guerrero has dishonored UCLA by hiring Alford and he can no longer be entrusted to be a leader of this institution. He has hired a man who reportedly "strong armed"a rape victim to protect an alleged rape perpetrator who went on to commit a similar act again two years later, this time serving time. Coach Wooden said, “sports do not build character, they reveal it”. Dan Guerrero has revealed his by hiring this man. This cannot be the character of UCLA, nor of our society. This cannot be behavior that continues to be not only condoned, but rewarded (Alford signing a 7 yr contract at over $2 million/yr) from as a result of Mr. Guerrero’s decision. This cannot be the kind of example our society and our universities hold out for the next generation of young people.
Dan Guerrero must be fired immediately and a new person brought in to lead the Athletic Department that will not reward bad behavior, but rather will continue the integrity and honor of a great university.