Editors Note: Occasionally here at The Tailgate Society we bring in guest contributors. These contributors can help shine lights on subjects that that we might have overlooked or couldn’t give the subject the proper justice. This is one such occasion. — Ted Flint
By Hawkize, TGS Guest Contributor
I can be brash.
Okay, that’s an understatement. I can be abrasive. I can be mean. I can be spiteful. All of this, of course, I can be on Twitter.
Except, that’s an act. It’s a jab or seventeen a day at Iowa State that might make you not like me, or a cuss word you may have never heard and wonder how that even makes sense. But that? That’s harmless, really, unless you’re Jamie Pollard and take it personally.
Steve Alford is not harmless, though, and you, as a human being, have a moral obligation to oppose him.
That’s a heavy statement. You have a moral obligation to not like him. But, if you understand where Steve Alford came from, how Steve Alford truly came to be, you’ll understand that obligation and adhere to it.
Last night, as the clock ticked down on yet another disappointment in his coaching career (Steve Alford has been a division 1 head coach at for 22 years, many of them at Iowa and UCLA, and has never advanced past the Sweet 16), Steve Alford sauntered off the court and back to the locker room.
Steve Alford, who makes millions of dollars a year, probably drove a nice car back to a nice house and considered his coaching options as he laid, callously void of remorse, in his nice, comfortable bed.
But Steve Alford is a bad person. A terrible one, actually, and it’s unfortunate he is afforded such luxuries. Alford’s bravado and arrogance were second to none – almost a legend in Iowa City. Many of the stories are probably inflated, and continue to snowball over time, but the tales never end. Did Steve Alford demand a free lawn mower from Sears? I’d say probably not – I really doubt he mows his own lawn. Did Steve Alford walk out on restaurant bills and tell the waitresses “I don’t pay for meals, I’m Steve Alford?” I don’t know. I wasn’t a waitress in Iowa City at the time.
And really, I don’t care about that. Being a mean guy who nobody likes doesn’t sound like fun, but it doesn’t disqualify you from being a basketball coach. It might make people not invite you to cocktail parties, but it doesn’t make you unemployable.
I do care about something, though, that should disqualify you from being a leader of young men and a representative of any university.
In 2003, Alford was in the honeymoon phase as coach at the University of Iowa. He’d been hired to replace a legend, Dr. Tom Davis, and started off with a bang – in his first game as coach, he knocked off #1 UCONN in a preaseason tilt in Madison Square Garden. Iowa fans were excited for the “next level,” as Bob Bowlsby so eloquently put it.
But the next level? That was something we saw only in terms disgusting acts by a disgusting human being.
That year, in 2003, Pierre Pierce sexually assaulted a woman. I don’t have to say allegedly – he was convicted. He did it. Pierce was Alford’s prize recruit of his tenure at Iowa thus far, and this would rock Iowa City to the core. Alford would have to dismiss Pierce and distance himself from him, right?
Well, that’s what a good person would do. But did you read above? Steve Alford is not a good person. He’s a very bad one, actually, and he jumped to Pierce’s defense – not just in private, but in public. On microphones, in newspapers, on radio with Dan Bernstein.
He didn’t just say Pierce was innocent (He did, many, many times, in public.) When he said was simple and jarring – the victim is a liar. Don’t believe her. She can’t be trusted. Pierre Pierce can, though, because he can shoot this ball almost as well as I did, he was saying without saying it.
But Pierce wasn’t innocent. He plead the charges down when it came out that he was actually guilty, and plead as such to those reduced charges.
That should do it, right? See ya, Pierre Pierce – have fun wherever you land, but you cannot, under any circumstances, put an Iowa jersey on and sit in my locker room again, right?
Wrong. Pierre, Steve insisted, needed a second chance. He was a victim himself, Alford actually said in this QC times article, and he gave him a red-shirt year and allowed him to return to the team a year later.
And then, the University of Iowa released its findings in a special report about the sexual assault investigation. You can read the entire report here if you’d like, but there is one part in particular that should have had Steve Alford fired and blackballed from coaching immediately.
In addition to these formal contacts, some contacts with the female student were initiated by persons who were not University employees, but who have an informal University relationship. In particular, individuals affiliated with Athletes in Action, a religious organization, contacted the victim to seek an informal resolution of the matter by asking the victim to meet informally for prayer with the perpetrator. One of those individuals had a longstanding relationship with the basketball program and its coach, which included traveling with the basketball team and conducting voluntary chapel and Bible study activities for the team and staff.
Wait. He what? The basketball program had a chaplain contact a rape victim to try and seek a Christian, informal resolution?
Nevertheless, thank God, the victim stayed strong and pursued charges. Can you imagine, though, the pressure of having people associated with a Big Ten basketball program telling you that you should drop charges? I can’t. I cannot begin to imagine that, and unfortunately, a female victim had to live through this – all because of Steve Alford and his ego.
And then, Alford let Pierce come back. And this is going to surprise you, but Pierre Pierce did it again. He assaulted and robbed another woman in West Des Moines in 2005, was finally dismissed from the Iowa basketball team, and sent to prison.
Steve Alford left Iowa shortly after – tail tucked between his legs, never once having apologized, only telling Dan Bernstein in a radio interview to “get over it and move on,” – to head to a Mountain West School where they may not have heard about how awful he is. Then, he fell up to the UCLA head gig in 2013, and finally, ten years later, issued a half-hearted apology about his actions once the Los Angeles media saw the snake in the grass.
Keep your apology, Steve. No one believes it.
In a time where we are highlighting the dangers and tragedy of sexual assault, it’s important to not forget that Steve Alford was a trailblazer for how not to handle one. The true nape of his neck shown through that year, and it isn’t going to change.
Even if he turns Crimson, Steve Alford will always be yellow.