Texas Longhorns Fire Basketball Coach After Domestic Assault Charge

Chris Beard was fired on Thursday as the head coach of the University of Texas men’s basketball team, weeks after he was arrested on a felony domestic violence charge in Austin.

Chris Del Conte, the university’s vice president and athletic director, said in a statement on Thursday that the university had decided to terminate Beard’s contract effective immediately.

Beard, 49, was suspended without pay on Dec. 12 after he was arrested and charged with assault on a member of a family or household by impeding breath circulation, a third-degree felony, according to the Travis County Sheriff’s Office. Beard posted a cash bond of $10,000 and was released from jail the day of his arrest.

Rodney Terry, the team’s associate head coach, has been serving as acting head coach of the Texas Longhorns men’s basketball team since Beard was suspended. Del Conte said that Terry would finish the season as the team’s acting head coach.

“This has been a difficult situation that we’ve been diligently working through,” Del Conte said.

The Austin Police Department said officers responded to a call about a disturbance at a home in Austin at around 12:15 a.m. on Dec. 12. The caller told the police that the disturbance had ended and that one person at the home had left, the police said in a statement. When the police arrived at the house, a woman told them that Beard had assaulted and choked her.

Perry Minton, a lawyer for Beard, said in a statement on Thursday that Beard was “crushed at the news he will not be coaching at the University of Texas.”

“At the outset of Coach Beard’s suspension, the university promised they would conduct an independent investigation surrounding the allegations and make a decision regarding his employment only after they had done so,” Minton said. “They proceeded to terminate Coach Beard without asking a single question of him or his fiancée.”

The university declined to comment on its investigation.

A few days after Beard was arrested, Randi Trew, Beard’s fiancée, said in a statement that her lawyer shared with The Associated Press that the two had engaged in a “physical struggle” after she broke his glasses in “frustration.” Beard, she added, “did not strangle me.”

“Chris has stated that he was acting in self-defense, and I do not refute that,” she said. “I do not believe Chris was trying to intentionally harm me in any way. It was never my intent to have him arrested or prosecuted.” A university spokesman confirmed that Beard had been offered the opportunity to resign or have his contracted terminated by the university. Minton, Beard’s lawyer, told James Davis, the university’s vice president of legal affairs, in a letter on Thursday that the offer “came as a shock.”

“With this, I want to be on record as emphatically stating, and herein memorializing, that Coach Beard has not done anything to violate any provision of his contract with the University of Texas,” Minton said in the letter. “He was arrested, then his fiancée retracted her previously reported statement.”

The Texas Longhorns named Beard head coach in April 2021 after he spent five seasons as the head coach of the men’s basketball team at Texas Tech University, which he led to the N.C.A.A. national championship game in 2019.

Before coaching the Longhorns, Beard was the head coach of the men’s basketball teams at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock; Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas; McMurry University in Abilene, Texas; Seminole State College in Seminole, Okla.; and Fort Scott Community College in Fort Scott, Kan. Beard graduated from the University of Texas in 1995 with a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology, the study of human motion.

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