Texas fires Chris Beard after felony domestic violence charges

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Austin, Texas — Texas on Thursday fired basketball coach Chris Beard, telling his lawyer he is “unfit” for the position as he faces a domestic violence charge stemming from a Dec. 12 incident involving his fiancé.

Beard still had five years left on a seven-year guaranteed contract that included a provision that he could be fired for cause if he was charged with a crime or engaged in other conduct that was inappropriate for his position or that reflected poorly on the university.

The charge of assault by strangulation/choking family violence carries a possible prison sentence of two to ten years if convicted; the woman told police that Beard strangled and bit her, but later denied strangling her.

Beard had been suspended without pay since he was arrested, and school officials said an internal investigation was underway.

The university’s vice president of legal affairs, Jim Davis, wrote in a letter to Beard’s attorney on Thursday that Beard engaged in “unacceptable conduct that renders him ineligible to serve as head coach at our university.” Whether prosecutors pursue the case does not determine whether Beard engaged in conduct unbecoming the school, Davis wrote.

Police responded to an emergency call at Beard’s home after midnight on December 12 and arrested him after Beard’s fiancé, Randi Trew, told officers he was strangling her from behind, biting and punching her when the two got into an argument.

The The Bharat Express News does not usually identify alleged victims of extreme violence, but Trew issued a public statement on Dec. 23 denying telling police that Beard was choking her. She also said he was never meant to be arrested or prosecuted.

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“Chris didn’t strangle me, and I told the police that night,” Trew said in her statement. “Chris has stated that he acted in self-defense, and I’m not disputing that. I don’t believe Chris is intentionally trying to harm me in any way.

Trew’s statement did not address 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 telling officers she couldn’t breathe for about five seconds.

Beard’s lawyer, Perry Minton, has said the coach is innocent and pointed to 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 stated that Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte “has repeatedly reported to our team that he is confident that Chris Beard has done nothing wrong – and is innocent.”

The university said Del Conte supported a “pause” from suspending Beard before firing him to see what facts might emerge. That should not have been taken as a determination of the coach’s conduct, Davis said.

“It appears from your letter this morning that Mr. Beard does not understand the significance of the behaviors he knows he is engaging in, or the resulting events that impede his ability to effectively run our program,” Davis wrote in the school’s termination letter. .

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“This lack of self-awareness is yet another lack of judgment that renders Mr. Beard unfit to serve as head coach at our university,” Davis wrote.

According to the arrest affidavit, Trew initially told police she and Beard had an argument where she broke his glasses before he “just bit me and got super violent.” Police reported that Trew said Beard knocked her glasses off her face and “strangled me, bit me, bruised all over my leg, threw me around and went berserk.”

The Travis County District Attorney’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Beard’s case or whether Trew’s December 23 statement would change the way prosecutors proceed with the misdemeanor charge. According to online records, a court hearing is scheduled for January 18.

“Chris Beard is crushed by the news that he will not be coaching at the University of Texas,” Minton said after the resignation was announced. “I worry that the University of Texas has made a terrible decision against the interests of the university based on Twitter feeds and editorials – not the facts about a truly innocent man.”

Beard led Texas Tech to the championship game of the 2019 NCAA Tournament and was hired in Texas in 2021 with the expectation of elevating his alma mater to the same elite level. He kept the Longhorns schedule humming this season, starting 6-0 and ranked No. 2.

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Associate head coach Rodney Terry took Beard’s place during the suspension, and Del Conte said Thursday that Terry would remain acting head coach for the rest of this season.

“We thank Coach Rodney Terry for his exemplary leadership both on and off the field at a time when our team needed it most,” said Del Conte. “We are proud of our student-athletes, coaches and staff, who have continued to make us proud to be Longhorns during this difficult time.”

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 Texas graduate, Beard spent 10 seasons at Texas Tech as an assistant under Bob Knight from 2001-2011, returning as head coach in 2016.

He was 112-55 in five seasons with the Red Raiders and was named The The Bharat Express News Coach of the Year in 2019 as he led Texas Tech to a 31-7 finish, losing in an overtime thriller to Virginia in the national championship game.

As soon as he landed in Austin, Beard began rebuilding a program from the ground up, changing the schedule and generating new enthusiasm for the program while interacting with students and often having comedic “fireside chats” on campus. In his first season, he led Texas to a first-round win over Virginia Tech, the Longhorns’ first NCAA Tournament win since 2014.

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