AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Chris Beard, who coached Texas Tech to the 2019 NCAA championship game and was hired away by Texas with expectations he’d elevate his alma mater to the same elite level, was arrested early Monday on a felony family violence charge.
Beard was arrested by Austin police and booked in the Travis County jail at 4:18 a.m. on a charge of assault on a family or household member in which their breath was impeded, or choking in common terms.
The charge is a third-degree felony in Texas, with a possible punishment of two to 10 years in prison. Jail records showed Beard had not posted bond as of Monday morning and did not indicate when he would be making an initial court appearance.
Beard attorney Perry Minton did not return a message from the AP seeking comment but he told the Austin American-Statesman the coach is innocent of the charge.
“He should never have been arrested,” Minton told the newspaper. “The complainant wants him released immediately and all charges dismissed. It is truly inconceivable.”
The seventh-ranked Longhorns (7-1) host Rice on Monday night. They were ranked No. 2 a week ago, the program’s highest ranking in more than a decade.
“The university is aware of the situation regarding Chris Beard. We are continuing to gather information and monitoring the legal process,” the school said in a statement.
Beard is in his second season of a seven-year guaranteed contract that pays him more than $5 million per year. Before that, he was 112-55 in five seasons with the Red Raiders. He was named The Associated Press coach of the year in 2019 as he guided Texas Tech to a 31-7 finish and lost in an overtime thriller to Virginia in the national championship game.
His departure for Texas — a deal reached after a meeting with Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte that included a McDonald’s breakfast an hour’s drive north of Lubbock — left Texas Tech officials frustrated.
Beard said it was a difficult move, but he could not turn down a chance to coach at his alma mater, where he was a student assistant three decades ago. Earlier this year, he led Texas to a first-round victory over Virginia Tech that was the Longhorns’ first NCAA Tournament win since 2014.
Beard’s contract includes a provision under which he can be fired for cause for conduct the administration reasonably determines reflects poorly on the coach, program, school or university system. That includes being charged with a felony. University of Texas System Board of Regents Chairman Kevin Eltife did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
If Beard is suspended, Longhorns associate head coach Rodney Terry would be a likely candidate to lead the team. Terry has been a head coach at UTEP (2018-21) and Fresno State (2011-18).
Texas freshman guard Arterio Morris faces a misdemeanor family violence charge stemming from a June arrest after an incident with a former girlfriend. He faces a Wednesday court hearing in Denton County near Dallas.
Morris, a top national recruit, has been allowed to play this season despite the charge, and averages 17 minutes and 6.5 points per game. Morris’ attorney, Justin Moore, has said Morris is innocent of the assault charge.
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