AUSTIN, Texas (KXAN) — Texas has hired Texas Tech’s Chris Beard as its next head basketball coach, ending a six-day search with Beard as the top target.
Texas is Beard’s alma mater, and he was a former University of Texas student assistant under then basketball coach Tom Penders. He returns to Austin after five impressive seasons leading the Red Raiders. Terms of the deal were not immediately released.
“I’m thrilled and excited to be coming back to Austin and back to the Longhorn family,” Beard said. “I can’t express how excited I am for this opportunity and the journey that lies ahead. I want to thank President Hartzell and Athletics Director Chris Del Conte for their trust. It’s time to get to work. Our top priority will be embracing our players as soon as we get to campus, and I look forward to starting this journey together towards our championship goals.”
This was the move that Texas was compelled to make given Beard’s success in the Big 12 and connections to the program and the state.
“When we began discussing potential candidates to lead our Men’s Basketball program, Chris Beard’s name kept coming up,” athletic director Chris Del Conte said. “He’s a highly-regarded coach and also a person who is so well thought of in his profession and beyond, and in our talks with him and those who know him well, we came away extremely impressed. We’ve all seen what he’s done in building Texas Tech into a national force, recognize his wealth of knowledge and experience, and his track record at every place he’s been is extraordinary. His success is well documented, and he’s a Longhorn at heart who cut his teeth in the business as a student assistant coach under Tom Penders. He’s family and loves The University of Texas.”
Texas Tech has been preparing for several years to fight off advances for Beard from the Longhorns or other potential suitors across the country, but the situation changed this week when Smart left Texas for Marquette.
Tech leadership extended Beard’s contract by six years after the 2019 season and raised his buyout. However, the contract buyout number dropped to $4 million on Thursday, allowing the Longhorns to negotiate at a lower number.
Beard nearly took Texas Tech to the top of college basketball, losing the 2019 national championship game to Virginia in overtime. Texas Tech has reached the NCAA Tournament three times in four opportunities under Beard, advancing past the first round in all three trips. In 2018, the Red Raiders lost to eventual national champion Villanova in the Elite Eight round. This season, Tech lost to Arkansas by two in the round of 32.
“It’s been a whirlwind of a day,” Beard added. “It’s a difficult and emotional day in a lot of ways as I leave Texas Tech, a place where I’m very appreciative of not only my five years as a head coach but also my 10 years as an assistant. I owe so much to Texas Tech University. From the players and their families to the administration, students, alumni, season-ticket holders and the entire Red Raider Nation, we were able to build something incredibly special and unique. We took the program to new heights TOGETHER resulting in a Big 12 Championship, a berth on Monday night in the National Championship Game, an Elite Eight appearance and three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances for the first time in school history. I am truly thankful for all the people of West Texas and their incredible support. Thank you, you have provided memories that will last a lifetime.”
The Red Raiders shared the regular season conference championship with Kansas State in 2019 and finished top-three in the Big 12 standings three times.
Beard finished with a 112-55 record at Texas Tech. He’s 142-60 (.702 winning percentage) in six seasons at the Division I level. In one season at Little Rock, Beard led the Trojans to the 2015-16 Sun Belt Conference championship and an upset of Purdue in the first round of NCAA Tournament.
“Beyond the immense success he’s had at every stop, the thing that really catches your attention with Coach Beard’s teams is how they play with such discipline, so much energy, and great passion and enthusiasm,” Del Conte added. “That’s a reflection of the relationships he has with his team, his leadership, and his ability to put his student-athletes in the best possible position to succeed. And on top of that, he’s just a great, charismatic coach and person who has a genuine love for his players and program. We couldn’t be more excited having him back home on the Forty Acres as our Head Men’s Basketball Coach.”
Beard has spent most of a 25-year coaching career in the state of Texas with stops at seven Texas universities. The Woodlands High School graduate got his start as a student assistant with the Texas Longhorns in the ’90s. He graduated from UT in 1995.
From there, Beard was a graduate assistant at Incarnate Word in San Antonio and Abilene Christian, where he earned a graduate degree. Beard got his start as an assistant coach at the University of North Texas. After three seasons with the Mean Green, he became a head coach in the junior college ranks, leaving the state of Texas for the first time during his coaching career.
Beard quickly came back to the Lone Star State, working as an assistant under Bob Knight and Pat Knight at Texas Tech. Beard’s first stint in Lubbock lasted 10 years.
After a one-year head coaching run with the American Basketball Association’s South Carolina Warriors, Beard came back to Texas, leading McMurry University in Abilene for one year and Angelo State for two seasons, going to the NCAA Division II tournament in his second season with the Rams.
In 2015, Beard moved to the Division I level at Arkansas-Little Rock where he won Sun Belt Coach of the Year as the Trojans swept the conference championships. In the 2019 national runner-up season at Texas Tech, Beard was named the Associated Press’ Coach of the Year.
Beard hasn’t finished with a losing record in any of his 12 seasons as head coach.