Rodney Terry succeeds Chris Beard as Texas men’s basketball coach. Shortly after his arrest on a third-degree felony domestic violence charge on December 12, Chris Beard, head coach of the University of Texas Longhorns men’s basketball team, was let go on Thursday.
According to documents obtained by the American-Statesman under the Texas Public Information Act, Beard was allowed to resign but declined because, according to a UT vice president, he still doesn’t understand what he did wrong.
Beard’s attorney, Perry Minton, sent a letter to UT on Thursday morning in which he said, “I want to be on record as emphatically stating, and herein memorializing, that Coach Beard has not done anything to violate any provision of his contract with the University of Texas.”
However, a terse letter was returned from UT vice president for legal affairs James Davis: “Chris Beard’s behavior is unsuitable for a head coaching position at our university. The university showed great deliberation and restraint by not firing Mr. Beard immediately, giving more time for relevant information to become available.”
Beard was 49 years old and in his second year as a head basketball coach. Beard was placed on administrative leave on December 12 after his fiancee, Randi Trew, reported that he had strangled her, bitten her, and left her with cuts and bruises. Following his arrest, he posted bail and was released from Travis County Jail later that day.
Finally, Davis criticized Beard’s involvement and lack of perspective in a strong letter he sent on Thursday.
“Additionally,” Davis wrote this morning, “your letter reveals that Mr. Beard does not understand the significance of the behavior he knows he engaged in or the subsequent events that impair his ability to lead our program effectively. Mr. Beard’s inability to reflect on his actions is the latest example of his poor judgment, which makes him unsuitable to lead our university’s team.”
The university decided to terminate Beard on Wednesday, and he and Minton were informed the following day. Minton was caught off guard by the news.
“Minton wrote to Davis, “Your update to me this morning came as a shock, coming so far into this process and after positive developments that firmly support Coach Beard’s declaration that he is innocent of any crime and has not done anything that “(a) is unbecoming a head coach and reflects poorly on the University or (b) resulted in felony criminal charges.” After his arrest, his fiancee recanted her statement to the media, and now I anticipate the Travis County District Attorney dropping all charges against him soon.”
On Thursday, Beard was informed by UT athletic director Chris Del Conte of the school’s decision to terminate his employment. “Our team has been working hard to find a solution to this predicament. As a team, we appreciate Coach Rodney Terry’s outstanding leadership on and off the court. We appreciate him being the interim head coach for the rest of the year.”
When asked if he had any thoughts on the possibility of a search for Beard’s replacement, Del Conte remained silent.
What caused Chris Beard to be arrested?
Around 2 a.m. on December 12, Trew reportedly called 911 to report that Beard had assaulted her at his home in the Tarrytown neighborhood.
Trew claimed in the arrest affidavit that the couple had been fighting about their relationship for days. She told police that she confronted Beard in the spare bedroom and that after he ignored her, she snatched his glasses out of his hand and smashed them. She informed law enforcement that she “did not feel safe.”
Despite Trew’s assertions that Beard may have acted in self-defense and that he never strangled her, Beard has never addressed the incident publicly. The Statesman and the AP received her statement.
After Beard’s arrest, Minton released a statement insisting that Beard was innocent and that the woman wished for all charges to be dropped.
The university has stated that Trew’s statement will be reviewed as part of its internal investigation. On January 18, Beard testified in a hearing. On Wednesday, prosecutors in Travis County said they were reviewing the case to decide whether or not to file charges.
Texas Longhorns basketball and Chris Beard
After leading Big 12 rival, Texas Tech to historic success, including a national runner-up finish in the 2019 NCAA Tournament with a loss to eventual champion Virginia in overtime, UT alum and head coach Chris Beard returned to the university 21 months ago.
The Longhorns have been ranked highly all season. They had posted marquee wins over No. 2 Gonzaga and No. 7 Creighton, following a promising first season at UT under Beard, when the program snapped an eight-game losing streak in NCAA Tournament play with a win over Virginia Tech before suffering a close loss to Purdue in the second round.
This week, the Longhorns lost their first game under Terry, 116-103, to Kansas State at home. The Wildcats were predicted to finish dead last in the Big 12, a conference that may qualify as many as nine of its ten teams for the NCAA Tournament.
On December 10th, Beard’s team won at home against Arkansas-Pine Bluff in their last game under his direction.
Several people with knowledge of the situation at UT have said that in the days following Beard’s arrest, university officials invited Beard and his representatives to present their case for why he should not be fired.
Arterio Morris, a freshman guard for the men’s basketball team from Dallas, was arrested last summer following an incident with his ex-girlfriend. The school is already dealing with the repercussions of the case. Morris, due in a Denton County courtroom next month, has played in every game this season.