OXFORD, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi has hired Chris Beard as its basketball coach just over two months after his firing from Texas following a domestic violence arrest.
The Rebels announced Beard’s hiring on Monday and will introduce him Tuesday in a public event at the SBJ Pavilion. Beard is a four-time conference coach of the year and was AP’s national coach of the year in 2019.
But his two-year tenure at alma mater Texas ended abruptly in January, though felony domestic charges were ultimately dismissed on Feb. 15. A prosecutor said his office determined that the charge of assault by strangulation/suffocation-family violence could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
Texas suspended Beard after his Dec. 12 arrest and fired him three weeks later when Texas officials told Beard’s attorney he was “unfit” to lead the program. Beard was arrested when his fiancée, Randi Trew, called 911 and told officers that Beard strangled, bit and hit her during a confrontation in his home.
She later said that Beard didn’t choke her, and was defending himself, and that she never intended for Beard to be arrested and prosecuted.
Beard replaces Kermit Davis, who was ousted on Feb. 24 after going 74-79 in nearly five full seasons.
“We thoroughly evaluated a number of outstanding candidates, and there is no doubt Coach Beard is one of the top coaches in the nation,” said Keith Carter, the school’s vice chancellor for athletics. “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.”
Beard has led three different programs to the NCAA Tournament since 2016, including an appearance in the 2019 championship game and an Elite Eight run the year before at Texas Tech. He is 237-98 as a head coach and 11-5 in the NCAA Tournament.
“I am honored to be joining the Ole Miss family and excited to get started at this great university,” said Beard, who was 29-13 at Texas. “I can’t express how grateful I am to Chancellor (Glenn) 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.”
Beard spent five seasons at Texas Tech, going 112-55 at a program that had endured five losing seasons in the previous six years. The Red Raiders went to their first Elite Eight in his second season and made it to the national championship game in 2019.
Beard led Little Rock to a 30-5 record and a Sun Belt Conference title in his lone season, making the second round of the NCAA Tournament.