OXFORD, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi on Tuesday introduced new basketball coach Chris Beard, who repeatedly declined to discuss specifics regarding his December domestic violence arrest that led to his eventual firing at Texas.
“Respectfully, Randi (Trew) and I have agreed not to talk about the details of what happened, not only that night, but in the nights we went through during this process,” Beard said. “But what I can tell you is that much of what was reported is not accurate, and that has been proven with the case being dismissed and the charges being dropped, and also Randi’s statement on December 23. I think that statement speaks for itself.”
Beard’s two-year tenure at alma mater Texas ended abruptly in January, though felony domestic charges were ultimately dismissed on Feb. 15. A prosecutor said his office determined that the charge of assault by strangulation/suffocation-family violence could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
Texas suspended Beard after his Dec. 12 arrest and fired him three weeks later when Texas officials told Beard’s attorney he was “unfit” to lead the program. Beard was arrested when his fiancée, Randi Trew, called 911 and told officers that Beard strangled, bit and hit her during a confrontation in his home.
Trew later said that Beard didn’t choke her, and was defending himself, and that she never intended for Beard to be arrested and prosecuted.
When asked specifically about the injuries documented on a police affidavit from the night of Dec. 12, Beard again declined to get into specifics.
“Again, I am certainly not trying to avoid the question, but Randi and I have agreed not to discuss the details,” Beard said. “There was a timeframe of what was reported and what was proven factual and not factual. Other statements were made and ultimately the charges were dismissed.”
Mississippi announced Beard as its 23rd head basketball coach on Monday. When asked about what went into the vetting Beard, Keith Carter, the school’s Vice Chancellor for Athletics, said he felt comfortable with the hire after a thorough process.
“We spoke with a lot of people to make our decision,” Carter said. “Like we would with any hire of this magnitude, we were extremely thorough in our review of coach Beard. That evaluation included delving into reports that led to his departure from Texas. Those are allegations that we take very seriously. It was important that we gain an understanding of what took place. What we learned is that initial reports were not an accurate reflection of what happened.”
Carter went on to say he had “multi-level conversations with people surrounding that night,” and cited assistance from an outside search firm.
Beard has led three different programs to the NCAA Tournament since 2016, including an appearance in the 2019 championship game and an Elite Eight run the year before at Texas Tech. He is 237-98 as a head coach and 11-5 in the NCAA Tournament.
Beard spent five seasons at Texas Tech, going 112-55 at a program that had endured five losing seasons in the previous six years. The Red Raiders went to their first Elite Eight in his second season and made it to the national championship game in 2019.
Beard led Little Rock to a 30-5 record and a Sun Belt Conference title in his lone season, making the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
“Ole Miss has a rich and historic athletics legacy, and while there have been tremendous moments, men’s basketball has not always been a big part of that tradition,” Carter said, addressing a crowd gathered in the stands. “Today, that changes. Our student athletes deserve the best coach, and now they’re getting it. Rebel Nation deserves March Madness, and now they’re getting it. This University deserves a championship, and today, we introduce a coach with a track record of success in competing at that level.”
AP March Madness coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/march-madness and bracket: https://apnews.com/hub/ncaa-mens-bracket and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25