Updated March 8: Chris Beard is emerging as the front-runner for the men’s basketball head coaching job at Ole Miss, according to ESPN, citing sources. Beard was fired from his position at the University of Texas following a Dec. 12, 2022 arrest.
Chris Beard’s coaching career will end when he wants it to, not when someone else decides it for him. In America, allegedly biting and strangling a woman in your home isn’t enough to keep a good coach off the sidelines — even if your former employer still stands by the decision to fire you for cause even after the initial charges were dropped.
According to a report from ESPN, Beard is the leading candidate for the men’s head basketball coaching job at Ole Miss, as both sides have been in contact. Beard was fired as the University of Texas men’s basketball coach in January due to a December arrest for a domestic incident with his fianceé.
“He just snapped on me and became super violent,” read the affidavit from Randi Trew — Beard’s fiancée. “He choked me, threw me off the bed, bit me, bruises all over my leg, throwing me around, and going nuts.”
“Coach Beard is 100 percent innocent of these charges,” his attorney Perry Minton, told the Austin American-Statesman, after the arrest.
Weeks later, she was singing a different tune.
“Chris and I are deeply saddened that we have brought negative attention upon our family, friends, and the University of Texas, among others. As Chris’ fiancée and biggest supporter, I apologize for the role I played in this unfortunate event. I realize that my frustration, when breaking his glasses, initiated a physical struggle between Chris and myself,” she shared in the statement.
“Chris did not strangle me, and I told that to law enforcement that evening. 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. It was never my intent to have him arrested or prosecuted. We appreciate everyone’s support and prayers during this difficult time,” she explained.
After the charges were dropped, Beard offered a statement:
“I am pleased with the announcement that the charges against me have been dismissed,” Beard said. “While I always had faith and confidence in the truth and this outcome, it has been extremely challenging to wait patiently and not publicly respond. I’m sorry and deeply remorseful to my family, friends, all my players and staff both most recent and past, and everyone at my alma mater The University of Texas.”
Beard’s career is far from over
But, as expected, Beard’s career is far from over. There are different sets of rules for men like Beard, specifically when it comes to coaching — especially in college basketball.
Beard burst onto the national scene when he took Texas Tech to the national championship game in 2019. In a season that many will remember for being highlighted by a Duke team that featured Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett, Cam Reddish, and Tre Jones, it was Beard’s underdog Red Raiders that were a few possessions away from winning a national title in the program’s first-ever Final Four appearance, as they fell to Virginia in overtime. Since then, Beard has been one of the hottest names in college basketball. After two more successful seasons in Lubbock, UT hired him to bring their program back to glory. It worked.
But, this column isn’t about Texas basketball. It’s about how history has shown us that Beard won’t be out of work long.
College basketball is such a wonder that it owns this entire month — March. No other sport can keep America’s attention span for that long. However, college basketball is also a sport in which head coaches have a ton of power. And if you’re good — and white — fans and athletic directors will drink copious amounts of an elixir called “Oh, that thing was completely overblown. Give the guy another chance,” which will give them convenient amnesia about a coach’s alleged sins while also allowing them to remember how beneficial that same coach is when it comes to winning games.
Here’s a list of college basketball head coaches who still somehow have jobs, were able to keep theirs after a scandal, or will be hired again at some point.
𑇐 Greg Gard (Wisconsin) — A year after firing a staff member for using the N-word (which led to one of the team’s few Black players transferring), Gard almost had a team mutiny on his hands. He followed that up by starting a brawl with Juwan Howard and Michigan during a postgame handshake line and came out of it looking like a victim. He’s still employed.
𑇐 Greg McDermott (Creighton) — Last year the Bluejays’ head coach must have been falling asleep to Django Unchained as he did his best reenactment of a slave owner. “Guys, we got to stick together. We need both feet in. I need everybody to stay on the plantation. I can’t have anybody leave the plantation,” McDermott told his team. The school suspended him for five seconds and quickly put the situation in the rearview. He’s still employed.
𑇐 Gregg Marshall (Wichita State) — In 2020 we found out that the Shockers coach is a maniac — as a former assistant described him — after it was alleged that he choked one of his assistants, punched a player, body-slammed another, and made fun of a third athlete’s Native American heritage. There was a lengthy investigation, but Marshall didn’t get fired. Instead, he just resigned and got a contract settlement of $7.75 million.
𑇐 Mark Few (Gonzaga) — Last year TMZ released a video of the Zags’ head coach from when he was arrested for a DUI. Few was drunk and annoyed and acted as if the police were beneath him. The footage shows Few refusing to do field sobriety tests, as he claimed they’re “totally subjective.” He pled guilty to misdemeanor DUI, was suspended for a few games, and the situation immediately blew over. He’s still employed.
𑇐 Will Wade (LSU) — LSU’s former coach was caught on an FBI wiretap discussing how he paid players. Everybody heard it and he still went to work every day. LSU suspended, then ultimately fired Wade after NCAA violations came down against him and his program, in a move that suggested that LSU was going to ignore federal evidence until the NCAA decided to punish the school. He’s not employed, but don’t be surprised when he gets hired again.
𑇐 Sean Miller (Xavier) — Earlier this week it was announced that Miller wasn’t going to be sanctioned by the NCAA’s Independent Resolution Panel from the fallout of what took place when he was at Arizona. Miller and Arizona were part of the FBI’s investigation into the sport, and it was alleged that he was paying DeAndre Ayton out of his own pocket. Miller has consistently denied paying players. As you can see, Miller is coaching at Xavier like nothing happened.
And last but not least, Mark Adams — the man who replaced Beard at Texas Tech — is under suspension for “racially insensitive” comments as he told one of his players that there is “always a master and a servant.”
There’s so much more to Beard’s story that we’ll never know. However, a school wanting to hire him in the aftermath of what allegedly took place at Texas was as predictable as a Tyler Perry production.
The combination of Chris Beard’s talent and whiteness was always going to save his career. Why? Because, sadly enough, someone at Ole Miss — or somewhere else — will hire him because they care more about his suffocating defenses than the fact that he allegedly tried to suffocate his fianceé.