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Texas HC Chris Beard fired with cause following felony domestic violence arrest

The news comes after Beard was arrested and charged with a third-degree felony on Monday morning.

NCAA Basketball: Gonzaga at Texas Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

Content warning: This story contains details of domestic violence

Texas Longhorns head coach Chris Beard was fired with cause by the university on Thursday following his arrest on Dec. 12 for felony domestic violence after he was accused of assaulting and strangling his fiance.

Beard was suspended without pay as the university conducted its investigation, elevating associate head coach Rodney Terry to acting head coach, a role he will maintain for the remainder of the season.

“The University of Texas has parted ways with Chris Beard,” Texas athletics director Chris Del Conte said in a statement released by the school. “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.

“We thank Coach Rodney Terry for his exemplary leadership both on and off the court at a time when our team needed it most. We are grateful he will remain the acting head coach for the remainder of the season.

“We are proud of our student-athletes, coaches and staff, who throughout this difficult time have continued to make us proud to be Longhorns.”

According to the Austin Police Department:

On December 12, 2022, at approximately 12:15 a.m., the Austin Police Department (APD) received a 9-1-1 call for a disturbance in the 1900 block of Vista Lane. The caller reported the disturbance was no longer ongoing and one of the individuals had left the house. APD officers responded and located a woman who stated she had been assaulted and strangled by Christopher Michael Beard.

When the police officer asked the victim if a verbal altercation had become physical, she said yes, according to the arrest affidavit, “he just snapped on me and became super violent,” adding, “he choked me, threw me off the bed, bit me, bruises all over my leg, throwing me around, and going nuts.” She said that she called 9-1-1 because “I just did not feel safe.”

She listed the following injuries from the assault:

  • Bite mark to her right forearm (visible teeth marks and redness)
  • Abrasion to her right eyebrow/temple area
  • Abrasion/scrape to her left leg from her knee to her foot
  • Cut to her left thumb with dried blood

The Assault Victims Statement listed multiple strangulation symptoms:

  • Difficult to breathe (during)
  • Rapid breathing (after)
  • Shallow breathing (during)

In a general offense document obtained by KXAN, Bead called it a “little disagreement” during which she “began to ‘take a couple of shots’ at him when he defended her off by ‘grabbing her wrists and put her down.’”

While the university initially said it was monitoring Beard’s legal situation, Beard’s lawyer maintained his client’s innocence, and his fiance released a statement saying that Beard did not strangle her, the now-former Texas head coach was in violation of the cause in his contract for conduct “unbecoming a head coach” or “resulting in a charge being brought against Head Coach involving a felony.”

On Thursday, the school responded to a letter from Beard’s lawyer, Perry Minton.

A former Texas student assistant under Tom Penders in the 1990s, Beard arrived back on the Forty Acres in April 2021 from Texas Tech, replacing Shaka Smart after a winding journey through the coaching ranks that included numerous stops at numerous levels.

After leaving Austin, Beard served as a graduate assistant at Incarnate Word and then took assistant roles at Abilene Christian and North Texas before he received his first head coaching gig at Fort Scott CC in 1999. A year later, Beard ended his most itinerant coaching phase following a stop at Seminole State JC by becoming the associate head coach at Texas Tech under Bob Knight.

Beard served in that role under Knight and his son Pat until 2011, when the younger Knight was fired by the Red Raiders, sparking the second period of steady movement in Beard’s career. For one year, Beard coached the South Carolina Warriors in the reconstituted ABA, then spent a year at McMurray, two years at Angelo State, a year at Little Rock, and 19 days as the head coach at UNLV before returning to Lubbock to replace Tubby Smith at Texas Tech.

Back with the Red Raiders in 2016, Beard quickly turned around a program without much history of success — Texas Tech had losing seasons in five of the previous six years prior to his hire and hadn’t had an NBA Draft pick in more than a decade.

The first step was getting back on the right side of .500, which Beard accomplished in his first season with an 18-14 record.

Then Beard’s effort on the South Plains started to take off in 2017-18. Led by a roster that included five seniors, including guard Keenan Evans, who topped the team in scoring, as well as promising freshmen guards Zhaire Smith and Jarrett Culver, Texas Tech finished second in the Big 12 to earn a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament, beating Stephen F. Austin, Florida, and Purdue before losing to eventual national champion Villanova in the Elite Eight.

Smith departed for the NBA, becoming the second first-round draft pick in school history, but the development of Culver and the addition of three key transfers helped Beard avoid a rebuilding season. With Tariq Owens in the middle and Matt Mooney on the perimeter, Beard’s no-middle defense helped the Red Raiders become the best defensive team in the era with an adjusted efficiency rating of 84.1. Texas Tech went 14-4 in conference play, tying for first in the regular season, and embarked on the deepest tournament run in school history, beating four straight top-15 opponents and nearly winning the national championship before falling to Virginia in overtime.

The final two seasons in Lubbock didn’t feature nearly as much success for Beard. After Culver became another first-round draft pick, Beard continued to retool his roster with transfers, but pursuing more highly-rated recruits didn’t necessarily work out for him, with Jah’mius Ramsey leaving after one season to become a second-round draft pick and top-40 prospect Nimari Burnett appearing in only 12 games before transferring.

Over those two years, Beard went 18-17 in Big 12 play, including a sixth-place finish in 2020-21 and a second-round exit in the NCAA Tournament. But, even in a season that didn’t qualify as a success compared to Beard’s previous accomplishments, the Red Raiders still did something that the Longhorns hadn’t done since 2014 — win a game in the NCAA Tournament.

After returning to the Forty Acres, Beard used the NCAA transfer portal to rebuild a roster decimated by departures, ultimately adding six scholarship transfers as well as former Texas Tech player Avery Benson. And while the group wasn’t able to live up to the lofty — and ultimately outsized — preseason expectations, Texas did go 22-12, including 10-8 in conference play, earning a No. 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament and winning the opening game over Virginia Tech before falling to No. 3 seed Purdue. The victory over the Hokies was the first tournament win for the Longhorns in seven years.

With more stability heading into Beard’s second season back on the Forty Acres, he signed two five-star prospects while bringing in two transfers, former New Mexico State guard Sir’Jabari Rice and one of the nation’s best transfers in former Iowa State guard Tyrese Hunter.

Texas got off to a fast start with high-profile wins over then-No. 2 Gonzaga and then-No. 7 Creighton, before the Longhorns lost in New York to the then-No. 17 Fighting Illini and then notched a win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff in Beard’s final game as head coach. At the time of Beard’s arrest, Texas was 7-1 and ranked No. 7 nationally. Under Terry, Texas won its first five games following Beard’s arrest, but lost to Kansas State on Tuesday to fall to 12-2.

Del Conte will now begin the process of finding the 26th men’s basketball coach in school history.