On Monday, the Texas Tech Red Raiders announced a new six-year contract for head coach Chris Beard that will pay the rising star $27.45 million, making him one of the highest-paid coaches in college basketball.
The contract extension comes on the heels of an appearance in the national championship game earlier in April that saw the Red Raiders fall in overtime to the Cavaliers. The loss marked the high water mark for Texas Tech basketball following the program’s first Elite Eight appearance last season. After only three seasons, Beard is the most successful coach in program history, if not the best.
For Texas fans, the notable element of Beard’s deal is a buyout that would reportedly cost a non-Big 12 program only $3 million after next season, but cost a Big 12 program twice as much. Since Beard was a student assistant with the Longhorns in the early 1990s, there’s been plenty of speculation that he might choose to return to his alma mater.
In light of that connection, the contract that Beard signed on Monday includes what amounts to a poison pill provision for Texas — Beard doesn’t have any connections to any other conference programs and Longhorns head coach Shaka Smart sits on the hottest coaching seat in the league. So the buyout is clearly meant as a deterrent for one specific program.
Buying out the guaranteed contract for Smart would be expensive for Texas, too, as Smart will have $10.5 million left on the remaining four years of his contract following the 2019-20 season. As a result, unless the Horns negotiate a settlement with Smart after next season, it would cost $16.5 million just to hire Beard, on top of whatever raise would be necessary to convince him to leave Lubbock, likely at least $5 million per season to start since Beard is scheduled to make an average of $4.6 million under his new extension.
In other words, even if Beard has any private interest in returning to Austin, the cost of making the only possible slam-dunk hire to potentially replace Smart just got more expensive.