- Chris Beard, who was fired as Texas basketball coach on Jan. 5, is reluctant to speak about that part of his past but is energized about his new Ole Miss job.
- Beard had high praise for his former assistant Rodney Terry but declined to speak about the aftermath of his assault charges from his then-fiancee, which were dropped by the county DA office.
DESTIN, Fla. — Chris Beard emerged from the SEC spring meetings Wednesday looking trim and fit and obviously energized and optimistic about his new job as head basketball coach at Mississippi.
The former Texas coach, who was fired by the school in January after domestic assault allegations (charges against him were dropped), was hired by the SEC school March 13. He has not spoken publicly about his dismissal.
Asked if he’d like to discuss his departure from Texas on Wednesday afternoon after he did a national radio show, Beard smiled tightly and said, “No, sir.”
He was polite if not initially approachable and shook hands with three Texas reporters after a brief chat. Asked how he was handling everything, he said, “I’m fine. God is good.”
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And he had nice things to say otherwise about the Longhorns program that his former assistant Rodney Terry has inherited on a full-time basis after leading Texas to an Elite Eight appearance.
“I was really happy for Rodney,” Beard said. “That guard they got from Oral Roberts (Max Abmas) is a great player. He’ll really help them. Between him and (Tyrese) Hunter, they’ll have a great backcourt.”
Beard had the Texas basketball program on the verge of a huge ascent after leading the Longhorns to the round of 32 in the 2022 tournament, breaking the school’s eight-game NCAA Tournament losing streak. He’s never had a losing season in 10-plus years and left Texas with a 29-13 record.
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But his girlfriend, Randi Trew, and Beard got into a physical argument on the night of Dec. 12, and she told Austin police that Beard had struck her, bit her and bruised her. She later recanted, saying Beard was acting only in self-defense and never tried to strangle her as she initially said.
Beard, 50, is being asked to revive the Rebels’ fortunes after Kermit Davis was relieved of his duties following three poor seasons. Under Davis, Ole Miss had gone 41-52 with a 17-37 SEC record in his final three years and finished sixth and 13th in the league the last two seasons.
Beard, the national coach of the year in 2019 when he directed Texas Tech to a national runner-up finish with an overtime loss to Virginia, has an impressive 237-98 career record.
Ole Miss returns Matthew Murrell, who had tested the NBA waters, and adds five four-star transfers as part of a seventh-ranked recruiting class. On Tuesday, he got a 6-foot-6 forward, Auburn transfer Allen Flanigan, whose father, Wes, is an assistant on Beard’s new staff.
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Beard said he hopes to add one or two more players to his roster and likes his new situation.
“It’s awesome,” he said. “The program has had a lot of success in the past (in the 2010s, when it had the league’s second-best winning percentage at .595), and Kermit did a good job. We’re trying to unite the family.”
As he tries to repair his image, Beard is taking a page from his last two stops at Texas and Texas Tech, where he had personable fireside chats. He will try to fill the 9,500-seat SJB Pavilion, which opened in January 2016, and get the Rebels back in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2019 and the ninth time in history. They once reached the Sweet 16, in 2001.
Beard said on the Field of 68’s “Off the Carousel!” that he “absolutely” wants to build a program fans can be excited about. He said his goal is to “unite” Ole Miss fans and players from every era.
“That’s one of our top objectives, and I’m very optimistic that we’ll be able to get it rolling sooner than later,” Beard said then. “I think our challenge is no different than other places we’ve been, is trying to unite everybody, get everybody on the same page, whether you played for Kermit or (Adam Kennedy) or coach (Rob) Evans or coach (Rod) Barnes or coach (Bob) Weltlich before them, is trying to get all the different generations, the time periods of Ole Miss basketball, back under one umbrella.”