AUSTIN (KXAN) — The University of Texas at Austin has fired Chris Beard as head men’s basketball coach, Texas athletics director Chris Del Conte said Thursday.
“It was a difficult situation that we worked hard on. Today I informed Mr Bird of our decision to fire him immediately,” Del Conte wrote in part in a press release.
“I think for the most part, you know, Texas did the best job of it,” said Westlake basketball head coach Robert Lucero.
We asked Lucero for his opinion on how Byrd’s firing would affect local recruiting. Westlake saw his fair share of high-profile recruits, including Brock Cunningham, who went to UT Austin.
“We remember some of the players who came through here, Brock, you know, UT is his school. He wanted to go there since he was little,” Lucero said. “So I think that no matter who the coach is, the brand in Texas is a bit bigger than any individual.”
As for players looking right now, Lucero said how the team is handling the rest of the season.
“Trainer [Rodney] Terry and his staff are very experienced, they know the Big 12 well, they know recruiting and they know Texas. And so I think they will do a good job until the end of the season,” Lucero said.
How did we get here
Beard was arrested around 4 a.m. on December 12 after Austin police were called to a house in the 1900 block of Vista Lane. Beard was charged with assault by strangulation/suffocation – domestic violence, a felony in the third degree, after he was accused of strangling and beating his fiancée.
Perry Minton, Beard’s attorney, released a statement on behalf of the former Longhorns head coach, saying Byrd was “crushed” and “devastated” by the news.
“Chris Beard is shocked to learn that he will not be coaching at the University of Texas. At the start of Coach Byrd’s suspension, the university promised to conduct an independent investigation into the allegations and only make a decision on his hiring after they did so. They proceeded to liquidate Beard’s trainer without asking a single question to either him or his fiancée. Since his arrest, there have been only positive developments that clearly demonstrate his innocence. Also, it is my opinion shared by others that any potential allegations against Coach Byrd will be dismissed very soon. This is in addition to his fiancée’s statements, which categorically state that the initial reports were inaccurate. I am concerned that the University of Texas has made a terrible decision against the best interests of the university, based on news and editorials on Twitter, and not on facts about a truly innocent person. The university violated its agreement with the coach and we are devastated.”
According to Travis County County Clerk’s records, Byrd’s third-degree felony case is pending before arraignment.