Chris Beard is back where it all began.
Three decades after he started serving as a student assistant to Tom Penders from 1991-95, kicking off what’s become a considerably successful coaching career, Beard has agreed to become the Texas Longhorns next head basketball coach, as first reported by Stadium’s Jeff Goodman.
BREAKING: Texas is hiring Texas Tech coach Chris Beard, source told @Stadium.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanHoops) April 1, 2021
ESPN’s Jeff Borzelo confirmed the report.
The news comes just shy of a week after former Texas head coach Shaka Smart elected to leave the program after six seasons — likely a mutual decision for both parties — to become the Marquette’s next coach, and on the day that Beard’s Big 12 buyout drops from $5 million to $4 million. The former helped soften the blow of the latter, as Smart leaving on his own terms allowed Texas to avoid his $7.1 million buyout.
Of course, Beard replaces Smart, who finished with a 109-86 record, though the glaring blemish on Smart’s resume in Austin was zero NCAA Tournament wins in just three appearances. Meanwhile, as Smart’s seat grew hotter over the years, Beard’s name began to surface as he built Texas Tech into a nationally respected program. Throughout his five seasons in Lubbock, Beard guided the Red Raiders to a 112-55 record, headlined by an Elite Eight appearance in 2018, and a trip to the National Championship game the following season.
Included in those efforts was a 8-5 record against Texas.
Now, that success comes to Texas at a price — Beard was making $5 million a year in Lubbock, and it’s expected that his services will require a pay increase to upwards of the $5.2 million first-year Texas football coach Steve Sarkisian is set to make. While that’s certainly a steep price to pay for a program that revolves around football, it also speaks to the desire for Texas to recapture the prominence it once enjoyed under Rick Barnes.
The need is only magnified with the state-of-the-art, $338 million Moody Center set to open as the new home for Texas basketball in April 2022, and Beard was on the short list of names who could potentially generate the kind of excitement to improve what’s been nothing short of underwhelming attendance results in recent years.
To do so, Beard will have his work cut out for him from his first day on the Forty Acres, as he’ll likely need to replenish a roster that may very well lose its most of its starting five, NBA-bound sophomore Kai Jones, as well as guard Donovan Williams and forward Royce Hamm, who each entered the transfer portal.