UT BASKETBALL HIRES BEARD AWAY FROM TEXAS TECH
Chris Beard, who led the Red Raiders to the National Championship game and the Elite Eight in two of the last three NCAA Tournaments, is the new head basketball coach at UT. Beard served as a graduate assistant for the University of the Incarnate Word during the 1995-1996 season. The Longhorns, who were stunned by Abilene Christian in the First Round of this year’s ‘Big Dance,’ replace now-Marquette Head Coach, Shaka Smart.
Here is the official announcement from the University of Texas:
A Texas Longhorn who led the Texas Tech program to the 2019 NCAA Championship Game and the 2018 Elite Eight, Chris Beard has been named the 25th head basketball coach at The University of Texas, Vice President/Director of Athletics Chris Del Conte announced Thursday. A 25-year veteran of collegiate coaching, Beard, 48, will be introduced at a Friday press conference on the UT campus
“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.
“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.”
In 11 seasons as a collegiate head coach, Beard has compiled a 252-103 (.710) overall record and advanced to four NCAA Tournaments. In addition to his five seasons at Texas Tech, Beard has also led five other programs, serving as head coach at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (2015-16), Angelo State University (2013-15), McMurry University (2012-13), Seminole State College (2000-01) and Fort Scott Community College (1999-2000).
“When we had an opportunity to bring in a new men’s basketball coach, we went for the best. And I am proud to say that is exactly who we got in Chris Beard,” said Kevin Eltife, Chairman of the UT System Board of Regents. “He exudes energy and confidence and has a great plan to make our program one of the elite programs in the country. He also bleeds orange and loves this university. Welcome back and hook ‘em, Coach Beard!”
Beard inherited a program at Texas Tech that was coming off five losings seasons in the six years prior to his arrival and he went on to guide the Red Raiders to five straight winning seasons and an overall record of 112-55 (.671), including an impressive 9-3 mark in NCAA Tournament contests. Texas Tech advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time in program history in 2018 and returned the following season with a trip to the 2019 National Championship Game, which included a school-best 31 victories. After the 2020 tournament was canceled due to COVID-19, the Red Raiders advanced to the 2021 NCAA Tournament Second Round.
“Chris Beard is the right coach at the right time, not just for our student-athletes, but for all of Longhorn Nation,” said Jay Hartzell, UT President. “Many in our community have followed his impressive career since his time here as a student assistant, and we couldn’t be more excited to have one of our own return home as an accomplished coach and leader, with the experience to help us reach new heights.”
The 2019 Associated Press National Coach of the Year and two-time Big 12 Conference Coach of the Year (2018 and 2019), Beard led Texas Tech to a 74-13 mark in home games at the United Supermarkets Arena, including a 33-12 record in Big 12 contests. Keenan Evans (2018 consensus second team) and Jarrett Culver (2019 consensus second team) each earned All-America honors under Beard’s guidance, and Texas Tech produced a total of 13 All-Big 12 selections and 21 Academic All-Big 12 honorees during the past five years.
“When we began discussing potential candidates to lead our Men’s Basketball program, Chris Beard’s name kept coming up,” said Chris Del Conte, UT Vice President and Athletics Director. “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.”
Three of Beard’s players at Texas Tech were selected in the NBA Draft. Zhaire Smith became the second NBA Draft first-round pick in program history, when he was selected No. 16 overall by the Phoenix Suns (traded to the Philadelphia 76ers on draft night). Jarrett Culver was the No. 6 overall pick in the 2019 Draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves, and Jahmi’us Ramsey was selected No. 43 overall in the 2020 Draft by the Sacramento Kings.
During the recently completed 2020-21 season, Beard led the Red Raiders to an 18-11 mark (9-8 Big 12) and advanced to the NCAA Tournament Second Round. Texas Tech earned a 65-53 win over Utah State in the NCAA First Round before falling to Arkansas, 68-66. The Red Raiders were ranked in The AP Top 25 throughout the entire season for the first time in program history, reaching as high as No. 7 in February and sitting at No. 21 in the final poll.
Texas Tech led the Big 12 in scoring defense (63.2 ppg) and held 13 of its 29 opponents below 60 points. The quartet of Mac McClung (second team), Terrence Shannon Jr. (third team), Kyler Edwards (honorable mention) and Kevin McCullar (honorable mention) earned All-Big 12 honors, while McClung claimed spots on the NABC and USWBA all-district teams. In addition, a school-record six players garnered Academic All-Big 12 team recognition.
“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.”
During the shortened 2019-20 season (COVID-19), Texas Tech posted an 18-13 record and tied for third in the Big 12 with a 9-9 league mark. The Red Raiders defeated No. 1 Louisville 70-57 at the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden and registered an 88-42 home win against TCU, marking the largest margin of victory (46 points) in Big 12 play in program history. Jahmi’us Ramsey (second team) and Davide Moretti (honorable mention) earned All-Big 12 honors, while Ramsey and Shannon claimed spots on the Big 12 All-Freshman team.
Beard led the 2018-19 team to a 31-7 record and a national runner-up finish, setting a school single-season mark for most victories. The Big 12 Conference co-champions (14-4), the Red Raiders defeated Northern Kentucky and Buffalo in the first and second rounds in Tulsa. Texas Tech followed with wins against Michigan and Gonzaga in Anaheim to reach the Final Four for the first time in program history. The Red Raiders knocked off Michigan State 61-51 in the national semifinals and took Virginia to overtime in the National Championship Game before falling 85-77.
Culver earned consensus second-team All-America honors and was named the Big 12 Conference Player of the Year, the first player in Texas Tech history to receive the accolade. Culver (first team), Matt Mooney (second team) and Tariq Owens (honorable mention) claimed All-Big 12 honors. Beard was tabbed National Coach of the Year by The Associated Press, the Big 12 Coach of the Year, the USBWA District VII Coach of the Year and the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches (TABC) Coach of the Year.
The 2017-18 Red Raiders posted a 27-10 mark and advanced to the program’s first NCAA Elite Eight. Beard led his team to NCAA tourney wins over Stephen F. Austin and Florida in the first and second rounds in Dallas. The Red Raiders followed with a 78-65 victory against No. 2 seed Purdue in the Sweet 16 before falling to eventual National Champion Villanova in the Elite Eight. Texas Tech finished second in the Big 12 Conference with an 11-7 record and earned a No. 6 ranking in the final USA Today/Coaches Top 25 poll. The Red Raiders were ranked in the top 15 of The AP poll for the final 10 weeks of the regular season, including six weeks in the Top 10.
Keenan Evans claimed consensus second-team All-America honors, and Evans (first team) and Zhaire Smith (honorable mention) garnered All-Big 12 accolades. Beard was selected as the Big 12 Co-Coach of the Year, the NABC District 8 Coach of the Year, the USBWA District VII Coach of the Year and the John McClendon National Coach of the Year.
In his first season as head coach at Texas Tech (2016-17), Beard led the Red Raiders to an 18-14 record including a 16-3 mark in home games. Texas Tech registered three wins against AP ranked opponents, defeating No. 4 Baylor (84-78), No. 7 West Virginia (77-76 ot) and No. 25 Kansas State (66-65). Evans (third team) and Zach Smith (honorable mention) claimed All-Big 12 honors.
Prior to his five-year run as head coach at Texas Tech, Beard served as head coach at Little Rock for one season (2015-16) and led the Trojans to a 30-5 mark and a trip to the NCAA Tournament Second Round. Little Rock won the Sun Belt Conference regular season and tournament titles, and the 30 victories set a school single-season record for most wins. In the NCAA Tournament, Little Rock overcame a 14-point deficit in the final five minutes to win an 85-83 double-overtime thriller against fifth-seed No. 12 Purdue in the first round.
The 30-5 mark was a 15-game improvement from a 13-18 campaign during the previous year. The 15-game improvement tied for the top turnaround in NCAA Division I that season, and his 30 wins tied for the sixth-most victories by a first-year Division I head coach. Little Rock’s 27 wins and .871 winning percentage in the regular season were both tops in the country. The Trojans claimed road wins against San Diego State, Tulsa and DePaul en route to a 10-0 start to the year, tying a program record for most wins to begin a season. Bears claimed Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year and NABC District 24 Coach of the Year honors.
Beard spent two seasons as head coach at Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas. Prior to Beard’s arrival, the Rams had posted three consecutive losing seasons, including a 9-17 mark in 2012-13. In Beard’s first season (2013-14), Angelo State registered a 19-9 overall record. The Rams followed with a 28-6 mark in 2014-15 and made the program’s first NCAA Division II Sweet 16 appearance. The 28 victories marked a school single-season record, and Angelo State concluded the year with a No. 19 national ranking. Beard garnered Lone Star Conference Coach of the Year and NABC South Central Region Coach of the Year accolades.
He led McMurry University (Abilene, Texas) to a 19-10 mark during the school’s first season as a NCAA Division II member in 2012-13. He also spent one season (2011-12) as head coach of the South Carolina Warriors (Myrtle Beach, S.C.) of the American Basketball Association (ABA). Beard paced the Warriors to a 31-2 mark and the Mid-Atlantic Championship, advancing to the ABA finals in the franchise’s first year.
Beard spent 10 seasons at Texas Tech (2001-02 through 2010-11), working seven seasons as an assistant coach under Hall of Fame coach Bob Knight and three years as an associate head coach under Pat Knight. During those 10 years, the Red Raiders recorded a total of 188 wins and made four NCAA Tournament and a pair of postseason NIT appearances. Texas Tech advanced to the 2005 NCAA Sweet 16, defeating UCLA and No. 11 Gonzaga in the first and second rounds.
Beard was the head coach at Seminole State College (Seminole, Okla.) for one season in 2000-01, guiding the team to a 25-6 mark and a No. 14 national ranking in the final NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) Division I poll. He also spent one year as head coach at Fort Scott Community College (Fort Scott, Kan.) in 1999-2000, leading the squad to a 19-12 record and a NJCAA Division I Regional appearance.
Beard began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at the University of the Incarnate Word (San Antonio, Texas) in 1995-96. He spent one year (1996-97) as an assistant coach under Shanon Hays at Abilene Christian University and two seasons (1997-98 and 1998-99) as an assistant coach under Vic Trilli at the University of North Texas.
Beard earned his Bachelor of Science degree in kinesiology from The University of Texas in 1995. During his undergraduate time at Texas, he worked as a student assistant under head coach Tom Penders. Beard received his master’s degree in education from Abilene Christian University in 1998.
Beard played his high school basketball for Mike Kunstadt at Irving High School (Irving, Texas) and for Terry Priest at McCullough High School (The Woodlands, Texas). Beard’s coaching tree includes three former assistants who moved on to head coaching roles, including Wes Flanigan (Little Rock in 2016, now an assistant at Auburn), Chris Ogden (UTA in 2018) and Brian Burg (Georgia Southern in 2020).
Beard has three daughters, Avery, Ella and Margo. He is engaged to Randi Trew.