Why Does Indiana Hoosiers' Tom Crean Support the Much Hated Steve Alford?

By Alex Dale
Geoff Burke- USA TODAY Sports

Tuesday, Indiana head coach Tom Crean tweeted, “Steve Alford will be incredible at UCLA. He is one of the very best for many reasons. I have always admired and respected him. Total winner.”

Does Crean really respect and admire Alford?

Steve Alford is a bad guy. Few people in college basketball will refute that statement, as the new UCLA coach has proved to be a less than savory character many times in his career.

While coaching at Iowa, Alford fully supported player Pierre Pierce, who was charged with the sexual assault of an Iowa student in 2002. At Big Ten media day in 2002, Alford gave Pierce his unwavering support, stating, “I totally believe he’s innocent.”  To make a long story short, Pierce wasn’t innocent, Alford tried to bully the victim, failed, succeeded in enraging the Iowa student body and fan-base and even received the ire of a university report and from the assistant district attorney for his gross mismanagement of the situation.  You can read more about the specifics here and here.

After being driven out of Iowa in 2007, Alford went on to New Mexico. He found success there, and signed a 10-year contract extension with the school.

That extension was, by the way, signed on March 20, 2013 — yes, less than two weeks before he left the Lobos for his new UCLA job. Does it get any slimier than signing a massive extension at a school, just to bolt not even two weeks later, not even .004 percent of the way through it?

So, as Alford takes over a relatively down UCLA program, should he really be getting admiration and respect from other coaches?  Of course not.

Then, why does Crean feel he must offer public support to a man who believes in sexual assailants and discredits assault victims?  Even if for some reason Crean does believe what he tweeted, why tweet it?  What is there to gain from proclaiming admiration and respect for such a classless, dishonorable man?

This was not even the first major public relations blunder for Crean, who verbally attacked Michigan assistant coach Jeff Meyer after their game on March 10, leading to Crean having to apologize the next day after video of the confrontation spread on the internet.

Alford is toxic right now, garnering criticism from the media across the country and a strange, rash choice to hire for UCLA. So giving public admiration to the man is just a silly, dumbfounding thing to do for Crean.

If Crean actually believes what he said, well, this is even more troubling.

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