AUSTIN, Texas — Chris Beard is going home.
Six days after Shaka Smart stepped down as the men’s basketball head coach at the University of Texas, the program named his successor in former Texas Tech head coach Chris Beard.
In 11 seasons as a collegiate head coach, Beard has compiled a 252-103 (.710) overall record and advanced to four NCAA Tournaments. In addition to his five seasons at Texas Tech, Beard has also led five other programs, serving as head coach at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (2015-16), Angelo State University (2013-15), McMurry University (2012-13), Seminole State College (2000-01) and Fort Scott Community College (1999-2000).
The 2019 Associated Press National Coach of the Year and two-time Big 12 Conference Coach of the Year (2018 and 2019), Beard led Texas Tech to a 74-13 mark in home games at the United Supermarkets Arena, including a 33-12 record in Big 12 contests. In five seasons at Texas Tech, the Red Raiders posted an 8-5 record against the Longhorns.
The UT alum has climbed in recent years into the ranks of the nation’s most respected coaches, thanks in large part to his ability to take over a Tech program that was bogged down in the wake of five consecutive losing seasons and respond with five straight winning campaigns. Texas Tech reached the Elite Eight for the first time in program history in 2018, his third season in Lubbock, and returned the following season with a trip to the 2019 national championship game, in which the Red Raiders lost the title game to Virginia after a season in which they won a program-record 31 victories.
“I'm thrilled and excited to be coming back to Austin and back to the Longhorn family," Beard said in a statement released through the UT athletic department. "I can't express how excited I am for this opportunity and the journey that lies ahead. I want to thank President Hartzell and Athletics Director Chris Del Conte for their trust. It's time to get to work. Our top priority will be embracing our players as soon as we get to campus, and I look forward to starting this journey together towards our championship goals.”
Kevin Eltife, Chairman of the UT System Board of Regents, said the search was focused on a high target, and hit its mark.
“When we had an opportunity to bring in a new men's basketball coach, we went for the best, and I am proud to say that is exactly who we got in Chris Beard," Eltife said. "He exudes energy and confidence and has a great plan to make our program one of the elite programs in the country."
Del Conte said that Beard’s résumé quickly made him a top candidate for the job at his alma mater.
"When we began discussing potential candidates to lead our men's basketball program, Chris Beard's name kept coming up," said Chris Del Conte, UT Vice President and Athletics Director. "He's a highly-regarded coach and also a person who is so well thought of in his profession and beyond, and in our talks with him and those who know him well, we came away extremely impressed. We've all seen what he's done in building Texas Tech into a national force, recognize his wealth of knowledge and experience, and his track record at every place he's been is extraordinary.”
While expressing his excitement about his next coaching opportunity, Beard also was generous with his gratitude for the program he is leaving.
"It's been a whirlwind of a day," Beard said. "It's a difficult and emotional day in a lot of ways as I leave Texas Tech, a place where I'm very appreciative of not only my five years as a head coach but also my 10 years as an assistant. I owe so much to Texas Tech University. From the players and their families to the administration, students, alumni, season-ticket holders and the entire Red Raider Nation, we were able to build something incredibly special and unique. We took the program to new heights together, resulting in a Big 12 Championship, a berth on Monday night in the national championship game, an Elite Eight appearance and three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances for the first time in school history.”
Del Conte add that in addition to the on-court success, he was impressed by the style in which Beard’s teams have played.
"Beyond the immense success he's had at every stop, the thing that really catches your attention with Coach Beard's teams is how they play with such discipline, so much energy, and great passion and enthusiasm," Del Conte added. "That's a reflection of the relationships he has with his team, his leadership, and his ability to put his student-athletes in the best possible position to succeed."
Beard has a career record of 252-103 (.710) in 11 seasons as a college head coach, including four trips to the NCAA Tournament, in which his teams have a career 9-3 record. He will be formally introduced as the program’s 25th head coach at a Friday news conference.