The University of Texas fired Longhorns men’s basketball head coach Chris Beard

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on Thursday, The University of Texas fired Longhorns men’s basketball head coach Chris Beard, less than a month after his Dec. 12 arrest on a third-degree felony domestic violence charge after an altercation with his fiancée.

Beard was offered the chance to resign, according to documents obtained by the American-Statesman under the Texas Public Information Act, but he chose not to and still doesn’t understand what he did wrong, a UT vice president said.

Perry Minton, Beard’s lawyer, wrote UT on Thursday morning, saying, “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, James Davis, vice president for UT legal affairs, responded in a terse letter: “Chris Beard engaged in unacceptable behavior that makes him unfit to serve as head coach at our university. Instead of immediately terminating Mr. Beard, the university exercised thoughtful restraint to allow time for additional material facts to emerge.”

Beard, 49, was in his second season as head basketball coach. He had been suspended without pay by the university since Dec. 12 after his fiancée, Randi Trew, called Austin police and told them Beard had strangled her, bitten her and caused her abrasions. He was booked into the Travis County Jail and released later that day after posting $10,000 bail.

Davis closed his strong letter Thursday with a damning comment about Beard’s involvement in the situation and lack of perspective.

“Additionally,” Davis wrote, “your letter this morning reveals that Mr. Beard does not understand thesignificance of the behavior he knows he engaged in, or the ensuing events that impair his abilityto effectively lead our program. This lack of self-awareness is yet another failure of judgment that makes Mr. Beard unfit to serve as a head coach at our university.”

The decision to fire Beard was made by the university on Wednesday, and he and Minton were notified Thursday. The news came as a surprise to Minton.

“Your update to me this morning came as a shock,” Minton wrote to Davis, “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.’ He was arrested, then his fiancé retracted her previously reported statement, and I expect that the Travis County District Attorney is very shortly going to decline any and all charges in the matter.”

UT athletic director Chris Del Conte informed Beard of the school’s decision to terminate him Thursday and in a statement released later said: “This has been a difficult situation that we’ve been diligently working through. We thank Coach Rodney Terry for his exemplary leadership both on and off the court at a time when our team needed it the most. We are grateful he will remain the acting head coach for the remainder of the season.”

Del Conte declined to comment about a possible search for Beard’s successor.

Beard, who was the 2019 Associated Press national coach of the year, signed a seven-year contract with UT in April 2021 for a flat salary of $5 million a year. His $35 million contract, which would have expired March 31, 2028, included the use of two dealership cars, 20 hours of personal use of a UT jet, a $250,000 one-time payment for his moving expenses from Lubbock and incentives up to $850,000 for winning the Big 12 and NCAA Tournament games. UT paid Texas Tech $4 million to buy out Beard’s Red Raiders contract.

Beard’s UT record was 29-13, including the school’s first NCAA Tournament win since 2014 last season.

Terry, who was UT’s associate head coach, has served as the acting head coach for the past six games, in which the Longhorns have gone 5-1. They are 12-2 overall and ranked No. 6 in this week’s Top 25 poll. Terry is paid $500,000 a year. He was the head coach at UT-El Paso and then at Fresno State in the 10 years before he join Beard’s staff.

What led to the Chris Beard’s arrest?

Police said they were dispatched to Beard’s house in his Tarrytown neighborhood around 2 a.m. Dec. 12 after Trew called 911 to say the coach had attacked her.

According to the arrest affidavit, Trew said the couple had been arguing about their relationship for several days. She told police she approached Beard in a guest bedroom and, after Beard ignored her, she became frustrated and took his eyeglasses from his hand and broke them. She also told police that she “did not feel safe.”

Even though Trew later clarified that Beard might have acted in self-defense and said he had never strangled her, Beard has never spoken publicly about the episode. Her statement was given to the Statesman and The Associated Press.

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