Ole Miss hires Chris Beard as basketball head coach

Published 11:42 am Monday, March 13, 2023

OXFORD — Chris Beard, a former national coach of the year who left his last job under a cloud of controversy, has been hired as Ole Miss’ men’s basketball coach.

Beard and Ole Miss had reportedly been in discussions for about a week, and the hire was formally announced Monday morning. A public introduction is scheduled for Tuesday at 5 p.m. at the Sandy and John Black Pavilion at Ole Miss.

“I am honored to be joining the Ole Miss family and excited to get started at this great university,” Beard said in a statement announcing his hire at Ole Miss. “I can’t express how grateful I am to Chancellor Boyce, Keith Carter and the rest of the search committee for their belief in me to lead this program. I am really looking forward to being an active part of the Oxford community.”

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The 50-year-old Beard has a 237-98 record in 10 seasons as a head coach. He led Texas Tech to the NCAA championship game in 2019, when he was named the Associated Press National Coach of the Year. He has also led Little Rock and Texas to the NCAA Tournament.

Beard owns a career record of 11-5 in the NCAA Tournament, including a 5-0 mark in the opening round.

Beard replaces Kermit Davis, who was fired by Ole Miss in February after five seasons and only one NCAA Tournament appearance.

“At each stop in his career, Coach Beard has proven to be a program builder and a dynamic leader whose teams exhibit relentless effort. He is a tireless recruiter and develops talent to reach their greatest potential,” Carter said. “He has coached at multiple levels of college basketball and has competed for championships at every school. Simply put, Coach Beard is a winner, and Ole Miss Basketball’s best years are ahead of us under his leadership.”

Beard left Texas Tech for Big 12 rival Texas in 2021 and led the Longhorns to the second round of the NCAA Tournament last season. In December, however, he was suspended and fired following his arrest on a felony assault charge.

Beard’s fiancee Randi Trew initially said in a 911 call that Beard choked her, bit her and hit her during an argument. Eleven days later Trew recanted most of her initial statement. She said Beard acted in self defense after she “initiated a physical struggle,” and “I do not believe Chris was trying to intentionally harm me in any way.”

Beard was fired for cause by Texas on Jan. 5. On Feb. 15, the Travis County District Attorney’s Office dropped the felony charge against him based on a determination that it could not prove its case.

“We thoroughly evaluated a number of outstanding candidates, and there is no doubt Coach Beard is one of the top coaches in the nation,” Ole Miss by Vice Chancellor for Intercollegiate Athletics Keith Carter said in a statement. “After conducting due diligence and speaking to a number of individuals on and off the court, it was evident he is the right person to guide our team to greatness.”