Basketball

Chris Beard: From landing Texas job to arrest, suspension and being fired

Few coaches have risen as quickly as Chris Beard had in recent years.

After leading Little Rock, a 12-seed, to a first-round upset over Purdue, a 5-seed, in the 2016 NCAA tournament, he became one of the most coveted coaches in the country. He left a few months later for Texas Tech, where he spent five seasons and led the team to the national title game in 2019. His ascent continued in 2021, when Texas — his alma mater and “dream school” — hired him to be its head coach.

The Longhorns had picked Beard in hopes that he could lead the program to the second weekend of the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2008. Beard guided the Longhorns to the second round of the NCAA tournament in his first season at the helm, and landed some of the top recruits and transfers in the country in his first two seasons.

Last month, however, Beard’s career came to a halt when he was arrested on a felony family violence charge, prompting Texas to suspend him without pay. Rodney Terry, his assistant and a former head coach at UTEP and Fresno State, became the acting head coach.

Thursday, Texas announced that it had fired Beard, ending his run in Austin as the allegations against him remain under investigation, per the Travis County district attorney’s office.

Here is a look at key moments throughout Beard’s career at Texas, through Thursday’s news of his termination.

April 1, 2021: Chris Beard is named Texas head coach

Beard, who was Texas Tech head coach since 2016, takes a reported $4 million buyout to switch Big 12 schools and replaces Shaka Smart at his alma mater.

Beard led the Red Raiders to a national title game appearance in 2019 and the Elite Eight in 2018 and left there with an overall record of 112-55.

Mar. 18, 2022: Texas defeats Virginia Tech in the first round of the 2022 NCAA men’s tournament

The 81-73 victory in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, marks the Longhorns’ first win in the postseason tournament since 2014.

Nov. 28, 2022: Texas rises to No. 2 in the AP poll, the program’s highest ranking since 2009-10

Texas open the 2022-23 season ranked at No. 12 in the preseason. After six straight wins, including a 93-74 win over No. 2 Gonzaga on Nov. 16; they vault to No. 4, and No. 2 the week after.

Dec. 12, 2022: Chris Beard arrested

The Texas coach is arrested by police in Austin, Texas, and booked at 4:18 a.m. CDT on a third-degree charge of “assault of a family/household member, impede breath circulation,” or strangulation. The charge is a third-degree felony in Texas, with a possible punishment of two to 10 years in prison.

Austin police tell ESPN they received a “disturbance hotshot” call, and officers were dispatched shortly after midnight Monday. Beard is released from the Travis County jail at 2:44 p.m. CDT after posting a cash bond.

Beard is permitted to communicate with the alleged victim in a non-threatening manner, must stay 200 yards away from the residence where police were called and was told he cannot possess a firearm.

Texas releases a statement, saying, “The University is aware of the situation regarding Chris Beard. We are continuing to gather information and monitoring the legal process.”

Dec. 12, 2022: Texas suspends Beard indefinitely without pay

Associate head coach Rodney Terry, who was a head coach at UTEP (2018-21) and Fresno State (2011-18), is named acting head coach. The school provides no timeline for Beard’s suspension.

“The university takes matters of interpersonal violence involving members of its community seriously,” the school says in its announcement.

  • Case against UT’s Chris Beard could prove to be drawn-out, experts say

Dec. 12, 2022: Texas plays first game without Beard

On the same day their head coach is arrested on a domestic family violence charge, Texas players pull out an overtime win against visiting Rice, 87-81.

Dec. 23, 2022: Fiancée disputes incident

Randi Trew, the woman who called police to report the assault, releases a statement through her lawyer saying she is “deeply saddened” by the incident, and that Beard was acting in self-defense from her.

“Chris and I are deeply saddened that we have brought negative attention upon our family, friends, and the University of Texas, among others. As Chris’ fiancée and biggest supporter, I apologize for the role I played in this unfortunate event. I realize that my frustration, when breaking his glasses, initiated a physical struggle between Chris and myself,” Trew says in the statement.

“Chris did not strangle me, and I told that to law enforcement that evening. Chris has stated that he was acting in self-defense, and I do not refute that. I do not believe Chris was trying to intentionally harm me in any way. It was never my intent to have him arrested or prosecuted. We appreciate everyone’s support and prayers during this difficult time,” she says.

In a statement, the university says: “We are reviewing the statement from Randi Trew. This matter is the subject of an internal investigation and the university does not comment on pending investigations.”

Dec. 27, 2022: Austin police provide “no comment” update

Three days after Randi Trew released a statement denying Beard had strangled her, while also saying the Austin police had failed to record her account of what unfolded that night, officials say they will not respond. “The department respects the investigation and court process and will not make any further comments at this time.”

Jan. 4, 2023: District Attorney’s office shares statement

The Travis County District Attorney’s office provides an update on the ongoing investigation, saying, “The matter is still under review, and our prosecutors are evaluating all of the evidence, including recent statements and all evidence collected by law enforcement.

Our office takes all allegations of domestic violence seriously; in each case, we are committed to working through the unique challenges presented.”

Jan. 5, 2023: Texas fires Beard

“The University of Texas has parted ways with Chris Beard,” Longhorns athletic director Chris Del Conte said in a statement released Thursday afternoon announcing the decision.

“This has been a difficult situation that we’ve been diligently working through. Today I informed Mr. Beard of our decision to terminate him effective immediately.”

The university’s vice president of legal affairs, Jim Davis, wrote in a letter to Beard’s attorney, Perry Minton, that Beard engaged in “unacceptable behavior that makes him unfit to serve as head coach at our university.” Whether prosecutors continue with the case does not determine whether Beard engaged in conduct unbecoming of the school, Davis wrote.

Minton says in a statement that Beard is “crushed” by the news and claimed that the university went ahead with the firing without asking Beard or Trew any questions.

“I am concerned that the University of Texas has made a terrible decision against the interest of the University, based on Twitter feeds and editorials — and not the facts concerning a truly innocent man,” Minton said. “The University has violated their agreement with the coach and we are devastated.”

Minton sent a letter early Thursday pressing the university to keep Beard on the job; the school responded by saying the letter showed a “lack of self-awareness.”

“Your letter this morning reveals that Mr. Beard does not understand the significance of the behavior he knows he engaged in, or the ensuing events that impair his ability to effectively lead our program,” Davis wrote.

Beard had five years left on a seven-year guaranteed contract that includes a provision he could be fired for cause if he was charged with a felony.

Assistant coach Rodney Terry took over for Beard last month and will be the acting head coach for the remainder of the season, according to the school.

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