Texas head men’s basketball coach Chris Beard was fired Thursday, less than one month after the school suspended him without pay following his arrest on a domestic family violence charge.
Associate head coach Rodney Terry, who has been the acting head coach since Beard’s suspension, will remain in charge the rest of the season.
Longhorns athletic director Chris Del Conte released a statement Thursday afternoon announcing the decision.
“The University of Texas has parted ways with Chris Beard,” he said. “This has been a difficult situation that we’ve been diligently working through. Today I informed Mr. Beard of our decision to terminate him effective immediately.”
The university’s vice president of legal affairs, Jim Davis, wrote in a letter to Beard’s attorney, Perry Minton, that Beard engaged in “unacceptable behavior that makes him unfit to serve as head coach at our university.” Whether prosecutors continue with the case does not determine whether Beard engaged in conduct unbecoming of the school, Davis wrote.
Beard was arrested on the morning of Dec. 12 after his fiancée, Randi Trew, told officers he choked her from behind, bit her and hit her when the two got into an argument. Trew released a statement on Dec. 23 in which she denied telling police Beard choked her.
“Chris did not strangle me, and I told that to law enforcement that evening,” Trew said in her statement. “Chris has stated that he was acting in self-defense, and I do not refute that. I do not believe Chris was trying to intentionally harm me in any way.”
Trew’s statement did not address why she made the emergency call or other details in the police report, such as bite marks and abrasions on her face and telling officers that she could not breathe for about five seconds.
The Travis County District Attorney’s office released a statement to ESPN’s Myron Medcalf on Thursday morning, hours before Beard was fired.
“The matter is still under review, and our prosecutors are evaluating all of the evidence, including recent statements and all evidence collected by law enforcement,” the statement said. “Our office takes all allegations of domestic violence seriously; in each case, we are committed to working through the unique challenges presented.”
Minton said in a statement that Beard was “crushed” by the news and claimed that the university went ahead with the firing without asking Beard or Trew any questions.
“I am concerned that the University of Texas has made a terrible decision against the interest of the University, based on Twitter feeds and editorials — and not the facts concerning a truly innocent man,” Minton said. “The University has violated their agreement with the coach and we are devastated.”
Minton has said the coach is innocent and pointed to Trew’s statement in a letter sent early Thursday to the university, in which Minton pressed the school to keep Beard.
“Coach Beard has not done anything to violate any provision of his contract with the University of Texas,” Minton wrote, adding he expects the charges to be dropped.
Minton’s letter also said Del Conte “has repeatedly reported to our team that he is certain that Chris Beard did nothing wrong — and is innocent.” It also said that Texas officials told Beard to resign or be fired.
The university said Del Conte supported a “pause” of suspending Beard before firing him to see what facts may come out. That should not have been taken as a determination of the coach’s conduct, Davis said.
“Your letter this morning reveals that Mr. Beard does not understand the significance of the behavior he knows he engaged in, or the ensuing events that impair his ability to effectively lead our program,” Davis wrote in the school’s termination letter.
“This lack of self-awareness is yet another failure of judgment that makes Mr. Beard unfit to serve as a head coach at our university,” Davis wrote.
Beard had been the head coach at Texas since 2021 after spending five seasons at Big 12 rival Texas Tech. In his lone full season in Austin, Beard went 22-12 before losing in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Texas was off to a 7-1 start before Beard’s arrest. Terry guided the Longhorns to five straight wins before a home loss to Kansas State on Tuesday.
Beard was in the second season of a fully guaranteed, seven-year contract. His contract includes a provision under which he can be fired for conduct that includes being charged with a felony.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.