Texas suspends Chris Beard without pay following domestic violence arrest
Warning: The following article contains graphic allegations of domestic violence.
Less than two hours before tipoff of its game Monday against Rice, Texas confirmed that its embattled men's basketball coach wouldn't be on the sideline.
The university announced it had suspended Chris Beard without pay "until further notice" following the second-year coach's arrest early Monday morning on a felony domestic violence charge.
“The University takes matters of interpersonal violence involving members of its community seriously," the Texas statement read. "Given the information available, The University has suspended Chris Beard from his position as head coach of Men’s Basketball and will withhold his pay until further notice."
Beard, 49, is accused of choking a woman at a home in Tarrytown, an upscale Austin neighborhood near the UT campus. An Austin Police spokesperson told Yahoo Sports that they received a 911 call at 12:15 a.m. and immediately dispatched officers to the 1900 block of Vista Lane.
According to Beard's arrest affidavit first obtained by the Austin American-Statesman, a woman answered the door and identified herself as Beard's fiancee. She said that she and Beard "had been upset with each other for a couple days regarding relationship issues." When asked by police if the argument turned physical, the woman allegedly said yes.
"He just snapped on me and became super violent," she said, according to the arrest affidavit.
The woman told police that the argument escalated when she became frustrated with Beard, took his reading glasses out of his hand and broke them. Beard, the woman alleges, according to the affidavit, then "choked me, threw me off the bed, bit me, bruises all over my leg, throwing me around, and going nuts."
Officers on scene were able to observe the following injuries on the woman, according to the affidavit: bite mark to the right forearm, cut to the left thumb and abrasions to the right eyebrow and left leg. The woman also complained of labored breathing during and after the alleged strangulation, per the affidavit.
Beard was booked into Travis County jail at 4:18 a.m. He faces a charge of third-degree assault on a family or household member/impeding breath circulation, according to the Travis County Sheriff’s Office.
Perry Minton, Beard's Austin-based attorney, did not respond to a message from Yahoo Sports seeking comment. In a statement released to multiple Austin-based media outlets, Minton said, "Coach Beard is 100 percent innocent of these charges. He should have never been arrested. The complainant wants him released immediately and all charges dismissed. It is truly inconceivable."
When interviewed by officers on the scene, Beard, according to the arrest affidavit, claimed to have audio recordings that would prove he wasn't the primary aggressor. Asked if he would share them, he allegedly declined.
Texas hired Beard on April 1, 2021, giving him a massive, seven-year, $35 million contract to return to his alma mater and revive its underachieving men's basketball program. Beard was hailed as a home-run hire after he led Texas Tech to the Elite Eight in 2018 and the national title game in 2019.
The combination of Texas' brand and Beard's coaching and recruiting prowess quickly returned the Longhorns to national relevance. Texas is off to its best start in years this season, sitting 7-1 overall and ranked No. 2 in the latest AP Top 25.
When news of Beard's arrest broke Monday morning, Texas initially released a statement saying only that it was aware of the situation and gathering information. The university did not suspend Beard until further details surfaced.
Beard appeared at a bond hearing Monday afternoon, handcuffed and clad in a black-and-gray-striped prison jumpsuit. Bail was set at $10,000 on the condition that for two months Beard does not go within 200 yards of the alleged victim or the Vista Lane home. He has the right to communicate with the victim from afar as long as it's not in "a threatening or harassing manner."
After posting bond, Beard answered no questions from reporters as he and his attorney exited the jail shortly before 3 p.m. local time and climbed into the back of a waiting SUV.
Associate head coach Rodney Terry served as acting head coach for Monday's 87-81 overtime victory over Rice. The longtime Texas assistant under Rick Barnes served as head coach at Fresno State from 2011 to 2018 and UTEP from 2018 to 2021 before returning to Texas as an assistant in 2022.
The specter of Beard's arrest appeared to make it difficult for Texas to focus on swatting aside a Rice team that had lost to its only two previous top 200 KenPom opponents by a combined 74 points. The Owls built a 10-point first-half lead and had a chance to win at the end of regulation before the Longhorns pulled away at last in overtime.