A week after the ink dried on the contract that Chris Beard signed with UNLV, he’s off to Texas Tech to replace Tubby Smith.
Smith left Tech on Thursday to replace Josh Pastner at Memphis.
“Coach Beard has informed me he intends to pursue the men’s basketball head coaching job at Texas Tech,” athletic director Tina Kunzer-Murphy said in a statement released on Friday afternoon. “This unprecedented move is extremely disappointing to the President and I, for our program and to our fans. Pur search process allowed us to developp a deep pool of qualified candidates, from which we will select a great coach who really wants to be here and who will honor his commitments in leading the Runnin’ Rebels.”
Beard, who went 30-5 and upset No. 5 seed Purdue in the first round of the NCAA tournament in his first season at Arkansas-Little Rock, spent 10 seasons as an assistant coach at Texas Tech under both Bob Knight and Pat Knight. When his UALR team played in Lubbock back in December, he had this to say about the area.
“People ask me all the time where I’m from,” Beard said. “I moved around a lot as a kid, and I’ve coached a lot of different places, but Lubbock’s the longest I’ve ever lived somewhere, 10 years. And two of my three daughters were born here. It was a little bit emotional. I’d be lying if I said anything different.”
Beard’s daughters currently live in Abilene, which is about a two-hour drive from Lubbock.
Beard’s contract with UNLV has a $1 million buyout, which could just about be covered by the buyout that Memphis has to pay Texas Tech for the right to hire Smith. He currently has a five-year deal with UNLV that is reportedly worth $4.5 million. Tech will reportedly pay Beard roughly twice that amount. Without question, this is a better situation for Beard and his family. It’s perhaps the best possible situation for Beard to be in in this profession, and while it’s a bad look to bail on UNLV this quickly, before you criticize him too harshly think about whether or not you’d leave a job in the span of a week for double-the-pay and the chance to be close to your kids.
For me, it would be a no-brainer, and that’s before you consider the fact that Texas Tech is unequivocally in a better position right now. They are coming off of a trip to the NCAA tournament while UNLV has two scholarship players on the roster for next season, depending on who remains in the NBA Draft.
And therein lies the issue for UNLV, who will be looking to hire their fourth head coach in the last three months. Friday is the start of the first April Live Period and two days after the start of the spring signing period. It took 11 days for the Board of Regents to approve Beard’s contract after a prolonged coaching search. Now they’re looking at having to do it all over again during the time that the Rebels might actually be able to fill in a roster that is quite literally void of enough players to field a team?
This is not a good situation for UNLV to be in.