AUSTIN (KXAN) – University of Texas men’s basketball coach Chris Beard was fired Thursday following a felony arrest in mid-December. His contract with the university shows how lucrative the high-profile coaching position can be, and how it could be terminated.
Beard, 49, was arrested Dec. 12 for assault by strangulation, family violence, by the Austin Police Department – a third-degree felony. The case remains pending in a pre-indictment stage, according to Travis County District Clerk records.
According to an arrest affidavit, police responded to a disturbance call just after midnight at Beard’s home on Vista Lane in Tarrytown, a Central Austin neighborhood. Beard’s fianceé said an argument turned physically violent, and Beard choked and bit her, according to an arrest affidavit
About 10 days after Beard’s arrest, his fianceé, Randi Trew, released a statement saying Beard did not strangle her and she never wanted to press charges against him. Trew released her statement through an attorney and said Beard acted in self-defense and never meant to hurt her.
“Chris and I are deeply saddened that we have brought negative attention upon our family, friends, and the University of Texas, among others,” according to Trew’s statement. “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.”
Beard’s job at UT is one of the school’s most prominent coaching positions, and it earns him millions of dollars a year.
Beard’s case is scheduled for a first court hearing on Jan. 18 in the 403rd District Court.
Rules for contract termination
As part of the agreement, Beard is responsible for complying with “Governing Athletic Rules and University Rules.” Violating those rules could be “sufficient cause for disciplinary action.”
“The University has established an expectation of ethical conduct at all levels of University life. In accordance with this expectation, Head Coach, as a member of the Athletics Department, agrees to represent the University in an honorable and ethical manner at all times,” according to the agreement.
UT also has the right, according to the agreement, to suspend Beard or terminate him “for cause” before the end of the contract period.
Cause could include a “serious or major violation” that reflects “adversely upon the University, its athletics program, or The University of Texas System,” the agreement states.
“Any conduct (a) that the University administration reasonably determines is clearly unbecoming to a Head Coach and reflects poorly on the University, the Program, or The University of Texas System; or (b) resulting in a criminal charge being brought against Head Coach involving a felony, or any crime involving theft, dishonesty, or moral turpitude,” according to the agreement.
If Beard were terminated “for cause,” the agreement says the university would not be required to pay him for essentially any payments that weren’t already “earned, accrued, vested or due.”
There is also a liquified damages clause requiring UT to be paid millions if Beard resigns prior to the end of the agreement. The damages begin at $8 million for resigning in the first contract year and drop $1 million each year.
KXAN contacted UT and Beard’s attorney, Perry Minton, for comment on his employment status and situation, and we will update this story when those statements become available.
A lucrative agreement
UT describes the agreement as a “long-term commitment” that is “critical” to the university and Beard’s “desire to run a stable intercollegiate Men’s Basketball Program.”
The term of Beard’s contract runs from April 1, 2021, through March 31, 2028, which is the day of UT’s last game of the 2027-2028 season. He is paid a base salary of $2 million, not including supplemental compensation and benefits, according to the agreement.
The agreement lists an array of benefits, including two “courtesy automobiles” – or $625 a month in lieu of one – and $250,000 for relocation expenses. He can also earn a percentage of the proceeds from university-sponsored basketball camps and clinics and be eligible for certain club memberships, according to the contract.
Beard’s partner and dependent children could be reimbursed for travel expenses and attending UT functions, the contract states. Upon request, Beard can be provided with up to 20 tickets to home basketball games, eight tickets to all away games, 12 tickets for all post-season games the team participates in and up to six tickets for all other university sports.
The agreement also provides Beard with 20 hours per year of “discretionary personal use” of the university’s private aircraft.
Beard is also eligible for performance incentives up to $850,000 per season for winning certain games like the conference championship and advancing in the NCAA tournament.
UT also agreed to pay Beard’s company, Baseline Group LLC, a professional services and licensing payment of $3 million annually during the term of his contract.
Beard’s coaching history
Including a 7-1 record this season, Beard is 29-13 as the Longhorns’ head coach. He went 22-12 last year and guided the team to the second round of the NCAA tournament before losing to Purdue 81-71. The Longhorns beat Virginia Tech in the first round of the tournament 81-73 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Beard began his coaching career in Austin as a student assistant under then-head coach Tom Penders, but his most recent head coaching job before UT was in Lubbock for the Texas Tech Red Raiders. There he led the program to the National Championship game in 2019, losing to the Virginia Cavaliers. The year before, he took the Red Raiders to the first Elite Eight in school history. In five seasons in Lubbock, Beard was 112-55 overall and 9-3 in the NCAA tournament.
Prior to coaching at Texas Tech, Beard was a head coach at Arkansas-Little Rock (2015-16), Angelo State (2013-15), McMurry State (2012-13) and Seminole State College (2000-01). He was also an assistant coach at Texas Tech for 10 years from 2001-2011.
Associate head coach Rodney Terry has been serving as the acting head coach while Beard remains suspended.