Texas suspends coach Chris Beard after arrest on assault charge

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas men’s basketball coach Chris Beard, who led Texas Tech to the 2019 NCAA championship game and was hired away by the Longhorns 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.” Associate head coach Rodney Terry served as the acting head coach as the No. 7 Longhorns needed overtime to beat Rice on Monday night, 87-81.

Beard was arrested by Austin police and booked at the Travis County jail at 4:18 am CT on Monday 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 fiancĂ©e and they have been in a relationship for six years. She said they had been in an argument during which 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-gray 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 how 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.

Terry was a head coach at UTEP (2018-21) and Fresno State (2011-18). He said after Monday night’s win against Rice that he has not talked to Texas officials about his future as acting head coach. He also commended the Longhorns for their play against Rice on what he called one of the most “difficult days” of his long coaching career.

“We have a very experienced staff that has done a great job to this point right now, preparing our guys for this game [Monday],” Terry said. “And our whole mission today was to control what we could control. I thought our guys did a great job of showing a lot of grit and a lot of perseverance through a lot of adversity.

“They’ve earned a day off to try to mentally and physically, try to regroup and recharge a little bit. We will let those guys get away a little bit [Tuesday].”

Terry said he had not talked with Beard after he was released from jail Monday. Terry also said he had not read the police affidavit that detailed the allegations against the now-suspended coach.

“I’ve really been focused on our guys today, really trying to rally them,” he said. “Knowing that we were going to have to come in tonight and play for 40 minutes. It wasn’t going to be an easy game for us.”

Beard, the AP coach of the year in 2019 while at Texas Tech, is in his second season of a seven-year guaranteed contract at Texas that pays him more than $5 million per year. His contract includes a provision under which he can be fired for cause for conduct the administration reasonably determined 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 Morris is innocent of the assault charge.

ESPN’s Myron Medcalf and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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