Texas fired basketball coach Chris Beard, the program announced Thursday, nearly a month after he was arrested on third-degree assault charges for allegedly strangling, biting and assaulting his fiancee at her home.
“The University of Texas has parted ways with Chris Beard,” Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte said in a statement. “This was a difficult situation that we worked through carefully. Today I informed Mr. Beard of our decision to terminate him effective immediately.”
Beard was fired for cause, CBS Sports sources say. As such, he is not eligible for any salary or buyout monies from the seven-year, $35 million contract he signed with the Longhorns ahead of the 2021-22 season. The deal should run until 2028.
A source told CBS Sports that Del Conte wasn’t the one who ultimately decided to fire Beard, but that that decision came from other leaders at the university.
Beard’s attorney, Perry Minton, sent a lengthy letter to James Davis, UT’s vice president of legal affairs Thursday morning after learning that UT wanted to fire his client
“Your update to me this morning came as a shock as you have gotten this far into this process and following positive developments which include Coach Beard’s declaration that he is innocent and has done nothing that is ‘(a) improper for a head coach , strongly supports and reflects badly on the university, or (b) resulted in a felony charge.” He was arrested, then his fiancé retracted her previously reported testimony, and I assume the Travis County District Attorney was very will soon dismiss all charges of The Cause.”
“Chris Beard has exhibited unacceptable behavior that makes him unsuitable to serve as head coach at our university,” UT said in part in its response to Mr. Minton. “There appears to be an incorrect underlying assumption that the outcome of the criminal case dictates Mr Beard’s employment outcome. But these are different processes, with different decision makers weighing different factors.
“We understand that some, but not all, reports of Mr. Beard’s conduct have been retracted,” the letter continued. “It is his actual behavior that we consider, not whether some actions also constitute a criminal offence.”
Minton later issued a statement saying Beard was “devastated at the news” that he was fired and questioned Texas’ motives for firing Beard and the extent of their knowledge of the incident.
“They proceeded to terminate Coach Beard without asking a single question about him or his fiancee,” Minton wrote.
Texas suspended Beard indefinitely without pay on December 12 following the arrest. Since that date, he was no longer allowed to be on the team.
“The university takes seriously matters of interpersonal violence involving members of its community,” UT said in a Dec. 12 statement.
Randi Trew, Beard’s fiancee, told police on the night of the incident that Beard “choked me, threw me out of bed, bit me, bruised my whole leg, threw me around and drove me crazy” as part of her statement upon arrest report.
Eleven days later, on December 23, Trew recanted her original testimony. Through her attorney, Trew claimed to be the initiator of the “fight.” She said Beard did not strangle her the night she called 911 in the early hours of December 12 and that she did not tell police otherwise, despite what the arrest report said. Trew didn’t dispute that Beard had acted in self-defense that night.
Police documented visible wounds and battle marks on Trew’s body when they questioned her on December 12. The arrest report noted that Trew told the Austin Police Department, “I couldn’t breathe; he probably did it for about 5 seconds.”
Trew recanted her testimony, saying, “It was never my intention to have him arrested or prosecuted.”
As of Thursday, the felony charges against Beard had not been dropped by the local Attorney’s office in Austin, Texas. Beard’s next court date is scheduled for January 18th.
Beard, a Texas grad, was hired to great fanfare in April 2021 after five successful seasons at Texas Tech. Texas No. 6 is 12-2 since Beard’s suspension and has won five of six games under interim coach Rodney Terry. The Longhorns play Oklahoma on Saturday.
“We thank coach Rodney Terry for his exemplary leadership on and off the pitch at a time when our team needed it most,” added Del Conte. “We are grateful that he will remain acting head coach for the remainder of the season. We are proud of our student-athletes, coaches and staff who have continued to make us proud to be Longhorns during this difficult time.”