- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 20, 2013

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Steve Alford loves New Mexico and New Mexico loves Steve Alford.

Those simple facts made Wednesday, the eve of the second round of the NCAA tournament, as good a time as any for the Lobos to announce they’ve given their coach a new, 10-year contract that could be worth up to $2 million a year counting base salary and bonuses.

The deal calls for Alford to be in Albuquerque through 2023.

With the third-seeded Lobos getting ready to play No. 14 Harvard on Thursday in a West regional game, Alford’s contract was the hot topic in his day-before news conference.

Alford, who was directed to Albuquerque by his former coach, Bob Knight, is 155-51 over six years at New Mexico. The Lobos are in the NCAA tournament for the third time in four years and their 29 wins are second-most in school history. Alford won 30 in 2009-10.

“I think we have started to put our imprint on our program and we’ve got things in place to be successful,” Alford said. “We have put a great product out there, won games, won championships and now we’re trying to take that to another level.”

The new contract comes months before Alford’s son, Bryce, is set to play for his father with the Lobos. Bryce Alford is the second-leading scorer in New Mexico prep history.

That fact, combined with the fact that Steve Alford is perennially mentioned as a candidate for open coaching jobs this time of year, made this as good a time as any to seal the deal, said vice president of athletics Paul Krebs.

“I think there’s been a recognition, certainly on my part and I think on Steve’s part, that things have never been better in terms of Lobo basketball,” Krebs said. “The fans are ecstatic, things are going very, very well. This is really about wanting Steve to be here, the continuity of the program, developing the program and trying to take the next step.”

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