AUSTIN, Texas — For Texas Longhorns associate head coach Rodney Terry, one of the most shocking days on the Forty Acres started around 7 a.m. Central when he found out about the arrest of head coach Chris Beard for felony assault, several hours after Beard was booked at Travis County jail.
Terry immediately turned his focus to preparing the Texas players to face Rice at 7 p.m. at the Moody Center.
“Today was a very difficult day for the program, a unique day,” Terry said. “Once we got the news of that, our focus and my focus was with our players and about the program. We have a very experienced staff that’s done a great job to this point right now preparing our guys for this game today.”
With the focus on game preparation, Terry said he didn’t have much time to talk to the administration about his role moving forward and how long he might remain the acting head coach as he leans on a veteran team with whom he discussed the importance of overcoming adversity. Truth be told, the administration probably doesn’t know how long Terry will be in that role after announcing the suspension of Beard without pay “until further notice.”
According to Terry, he was not in contact with Beard at any point following his arrest and wasn’t officially informed of the decision that made him the acting head coach until it was relayed to him by Texas athletics director Chris Del Conte during shootaround.
“I don’t have the privilege to talk about a lot of things,” Terry said. “I’m here to talk about basketball and a very competitive game that we had tonight against a very good Rice basketball team.”
After No. 7 Texas defeated Rice 87-81 in overtime in a hard-fought win that featured an early lead by the Owls and a missed game-winner in regulation, it was Terry was left to publicly handle the fallout as athletics director Chris Del Conte declined to make himself available to the media.
“I thought our guys did a great job of showing a lot of grit and perseverance today through a lot of adversity,” Terry said.
The Longhorns communications apparatus that waited until an hour and a half before game time to release a statement about Beard’s suspension? And the lack of accountability from Del Conte? Not so great.
With the players finishing up the semester and playing 85 minutes of basketball in three days, Terry said they earned a day off to physically and mentally regroup. Before doing so himself, he spoke about the relationship that he and Beard, whom he said he loves “like his own brother,” have to the University of Texas.
“A guy that loves this place as much as I do,” Terry said. “Man, we love Texas. We love being a Longhorn. He loves being a Longhorn. An incredible guy, a guy who wants to win more than anybody, wants to make this university proud, both from a basketball standpoint and really trying to get this program back to the level it was years ago. And, again, he works his tail off in terms of how hard he works — there’s no harder-working guy that I’ve ever been around.”
But regardless of those attributes as perceived by Terry, who has known Beard for a long time, the incident as laid out in the police affidavit portrays a situation leading to Beard’s arrest that could, and should, if those facts hold up, end his tenure as the Longhorns head coach.
For now, Terry, the staff, and the players will take a day off before the Horns continue to move into a new and unexpected era of Texas basketball.