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Texas Longhorns men’s basketball coach is arrested on a felony family violence charge

Chris Beard was booked on a charge of assault on a family or household member in which their breath was impeded, the Travis County Sheriff's Office said.
Image: Texas Longhorns head coach Chris Beard looks on during the second half of the game against the Illinois Fighting Illini at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 6, 2022 in New York.
Texas Longhorns men's basketball coach Chris Beard during the second half of a game against the University of Illinois at Madison Square Garden in New York on Dec. 6.Dustin Satloff / Getty Images
/ Source: The Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas — Chris Beard, who coached Texas Tech to the 2019 NCAA championship game and was hired away by Texas with expectations he’d elevate his alma mater to the same elite level, was arrested early Monday on a felony family violence charge after a woman told police he strangled and bit her.

The school suspended Beard without pay “until further notice” and said assistant Rodney Terry would coach the No. 7 Longhorns against Rice on Monday night.

Beard was arrested by Austin police and booked at the Travis County jail at 4:18 a.m. on a charge of assault on a family or household member in which their breath was impeded. The charge is a third-degree felony in Texas, with a possible punishment of two to 10 years in prison.

According to the arrest affidavit first reported by the Austin American-Statesman, the woman told police she is his fiancee and they have been in a relationship for six years. She said they had been in an argument where she broke his glasses before he “just snapped on me and became super violent.”

According to the affidavit, the woman told police “he choked me, bit me, bruises all over my leg, throwing me around and going nuts.”

She told police Beard choked her from behind with his arm around her neck and she couldn’t breathe for about five seconds. Police say she had a bite mark on her right arm and an abrasion to her right temple among other visible injuries.

When questioned by police, Beard said he had audio recordings of the incident that would show he was not the primary aggressor. But he refused to share them with officers, police said.

Beard went before a magistrate judge for his bond hearing, wearing jailhouse black-and-grey stripes and his hands cuffed in front at his waist. Beard was told he could communicate with the woman but not in a threatening manner, was ordered to stay 200 yards away from the residence where police were called and was told he is barred from possessing a firearm.

Beard nodded his head and answered “yes, sir” several times when addressing the judge. Jail records show Beard posted $10,000 bond. He didn’t answer questions when he left the jail with his attorney Perry Minton.

Minton declined to comment but earlier told the American-Statesman the coach is innocent.

“He should never have been arrested,” Minton told the newspaper. “The complainant wants him released immediately and all charges dismissed. It is truly inconceivable.”

It wasn’t immediately known if the woman has an attorney. She was identified in the affidavit, but The Associated Press does not typically identify alleged victims of extreme violence without their consent.

“The university takes matters of interpersonal violence involving members of its community seriously,” the school said in announcing Beard’s suspension. It did not commit to Terry as the acting coach beyond Monday night. Terry was a head coach at UTEP (2018-21) and Fresno State (2011-18).

Beard is in his second season of a seven-year guaranteed contract that pays him more than $5 million per year. Before that, he was 112-55 in five seasons with the Red Raiders. He was named The Associated Press coach of the year in 2019 as he guided Texas Tech to a 31-7 finish and lost in an overtime thriller to Virginia in the national championship game.

His departure for Texas — a deal reached after a meeting with Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte that included a McDonald’s breakfast an hour’s drive north of Lubbock — left Texas Tech officials frustrated.

Beard said it was a difficult move, but he could not turn down a chance to coach at his alma mater, where he was a student assistant three decades ago. Earlier this year, he led Texas to a first-round victory over Virginia Tech that was the Longhorns’ first NCAA Tournament win since 2014.

Beard’s contract includes a provision under which he can be fired for cause for conduct the administration reasonably determines reflects poorly on the coach, program, school or university system. That includes being charged with a felony. University of Texas System Board of Regents Chairman Kevin Eltife did not return a message seeking comment.

Texas freshman guard Arterio Morris faces a misdemeanor family violence charge stemming from a June arrest after an incident with a former girlfriend. He faces a Wednesday court hearing in Denton County near Dallas.

Morris, a top national recruit, has been allowed to play this season despite the charge, and averages 17 minutes and 6.5 points per game. Morris’ attorney, Justin Moore, has said Moore is innocent of the assault charge.