ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - In late March, Steve Alford told UNM and Lobo fans across the state ' It's not you, it's me,' before bolting for UCLA.
"It had nothing to do with UNM," Alford said at a goodbye press conference. "It's just been a great relationship over and through everything and I can't say thank you enough."
But this breakup is showing signs of turning bitter and, like many divorces, could be resolved by lawyers instead of sentimental statements.
The fight surrounds how much Alford owes UNM for leaving for another school.
Alford's old deal, first signed in 2007, calls for a $200,000 buyout if the coach left before April 1, 2013.
However days before bolting, Alford had signed a term sheet for a 10-year contract extension that called for that buyout to jump to $1 million. That deal wasn't set to kick in until April 1, 2013.
The catch, UNM wrote Alford in a later earlier this month, is that the same contract requires Alford to give the school 30 days notice before terminating his agreement something the school says he didn't do.
In that same letter, the school claimed Alford's lack of notice meant the new deal was in effect and Alford owed them $1 million , to be paid by close of business April 29.
But about an hour before close of business Monday, UNM says they received a letter from Alford, with Alford claiming he owes the school his old deal's buyout, which would be $200,000.
UNM associate counsel Kimberly Bell says Alford has not paid the school a dollar of even that buyout as of Monday afternoon.
Both Alford's new and old contracts call for any disputes between the school and UNM to be handled through arbitration, something Bell says could take some time.
"It's really hard to tell, it depends on a lot of different factors so it's hard to tell how long an arbitration might take it could take awhile," Bell said.
Typically a school will cover a coach's buyout from its old school. UCLA paid Alford a signing bonus of $200,000.
An email sent Monday afternoon to Alford's representative Michael Barnett was not returned at the time this article was published.
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