Texas fires Chris Beard amid domestic violence charge
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas fired basketball coach Chris Beard on Thursday, telling his attorney he was “unfit” for the job as he faces a domestic domestic violence charge stemming from a December 12 incident involving his fiancée.
Beard still had five years left on a guaranteed seven-year contract that included a provision that he could be fired for cause if he was charged with a crime or engaged in other behavior unbecoming of his position or that reflected university badly.
The domestic violence strangulation/suffocation assault charge carries a prison sentence of two to 10 years if convicted; the woman told police that Beard choked and bit her, but later denied suffocating her.
Beard had been suspended without pay since his arrest and school officials said there was an internal investigation.
The university’s vice president of legal affairs, Jim Davis, wrote in a letter Thursday to Beard’s attorney that Beard had engaged in “unacceptable behavior which renders him unfit to serve as head coach in our university. Whether prosecutors pursue the case does not determine whether Beard engaged in conduct unbecoming of the school, Davis wrote.
Police responded to an emergency call to Beard’s home after midnight on December 12 and arrested him after Beard’s fiancee, Randi Trew, told officers he had strangled her from behind, had bitten and kicked when the two argued.
The Associated Press does not usually identify alleged victims of extreme violence, but Trew released a public statement Dec. 23 in which she denied telling police that Beard strangled her. She also said she never intended for him to be arrested or prosecuted.
“Chris did not strangle me, and I told law enforcement that night,” Trew said in his statement. “Chris said he was acting in self-defense, and I don’t refute that. I don’t believe Chris tried to intentionally harm me in any way.
Trew’s statement did not explain why she made the emergency call or other details in the police report, such as bite marks on her arm and abrasions on her face, and told the agents that she couldn’t breathe for about five seconds.
Beard’s attorney, Perry Minton, said the coach was innocent and highlighted Trew’s statement in a letter sent to the university early Thursday, in which Minton urged the school to keep Beard.
“Coach Beard has done nothing to violate any provision of his contract with the University of Texas,” Minton wrote, adding that he expects the charges to be dropped.
Minton’s letter also said Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte “has repeatedly reported to our team that he is certain Chris Beard has done nothing wrong – and is innocent.” . He also said Texas officials told Beard to resign or be fired.
The university said Del Conte supported a “pause” of suspension from Beard before firing him to see what facts might come out. That shouldn’t have been seen as a determination of the coach’s conduct, Davis said.
“Your letter this morning reveals that Mr. Beard does not understand the significance of the behavior he knows he has engaged in, or the ensuing events that impair his ability to effectively lead our program,” Davis wrote in the school’s dismissal letter.
“This lack of self-awareness is another lack of judgment that makes Mr. Beard unfit to serve as head coach at our university,” Davis wrote.
According to the arrest affidavit, Trew first told police that she and Beard got into an argument in which she broke her glasses before he “put me on top and got super violent.” Police report that Trew said Beard slapped his glasses on his face and “choked me, bit me, bruised all over my leg, threw me everywhere and went crazy.”
The Travis County District Attorney’s Office did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Beard’s case or whether Trew’s Dec. 23 statement would change how prosecutors proceed with felony charges. A court hearing on January 18 is scheduled, according to online records.
“Chris Beard is upset to learn that he will not be coaching at the University of Texas,” Minton said after the layoff announcement. “I fear the University of Texas has made a terrible decision against the interests of the University, based on Twitter feeds and editorials – not the facts of a truly innocent man.”
Beard led Texas Tech to the 2019 NCAA Tournament Championship Game and was hired at Texas in 2021 in the hopes that he would elevate his alma mater to the same elite level. He’s had the Longhorns schedule humming this season, starting 6-0 and ranked No. 2.
Associate head coach Rodney Terry took Beard’s place during the suspension, and Del Conte said Thursday that Terry would remain as interim head coach until the end of the season.
“We thank Coach Rodney Terry for his exemplary leadership on and off the pitch at a time when our team needed it most,” said Del Conte. “We are proud of our student-athletes, coaches and staff, who throughout this difficult time have continued to make us proud to be Longhorns.”
The Longhorns (12-2, 1-1 Big 12) won their first five games under Terry before losing 116-103 to Kansas State on Tuesday.
A graduate of Texas, Beard spent 10 seasons at Texas Tech as an assistant under Bob Knight from 2001 to 2011, then returned there as head coach in 2016.
He was 112-55 in five seasons with the Red Raiders and was named Associated Press Coach of the Year in 2019 as he guided Texas Tech to a 31-7 finish and loss in a thriller in overtime against Virginia in the national championship game.
As soon as he landed in Austin, Beard set out to rebuild a program from the ground up, tweaking the roster and trying to generate new enthusiasm for the program as he engaged with students and often held meetings. comedic “fireside chats” on campus. In his freshman season, he led Texas to a first-round win over Virginia Tech, the Longhorns’ first NCAA Tournament win since 2014.
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