Players at the University of Texas at Austin spoke out for the first time Monday about the mid-season firing of head basketball coach Chris Beard following his arrest on a felony family violence charge.
Sixth-year senior Marcus Carr and fifth-year seniors Timmy Allen and Brock Cunningham said Beard’s December 12 arrest and firing last week would not change their goals for the season.
“The coaches preached to us early on … [about] us being a player-led team,” guard Marcus Carr said. “Those really special teams, teams that do something special, are teams where players are able to set the standards and hold each other accountable.”
No.10 Texas (13–2, 2–1 Big 12) is 6–1 since Beard was suspended without pay and assistant Rodney Terry took over. The Longhorns host No.17 TCU (13–2, 2–1) on Wednesday night.
Police arrested Beard after responding to an emergency call from his house. His fiancée told officers he choked her from behind, bit her, and hit her when the two argued.
She later retracted some of the allegations, including that she was choked, and said she did “not dispute” that Beard was acting in self-defense.
The Longhorns players described the “initial shock” of Beard’s arrest, which they had to quickly shake off when the Longhorns played that night against Rice. The Owls took the shaken Longhorns to overtime before Texas won.
Cunningham said the veteran players gathered the younger ones at that morning’s shootaround to discuss things.
Carr and Allen are second-year transfer players. Cunningham stayed with the Longhorns after former coach Shaka Smart left for Marquette.
Each encouraged their younger teammates to focus on the play on the court, not the legal case swirling around Beard.
“It’s still our team,” Cunningham said. “We’re an older team, and we can weather any storm … Nothing has changed for our goals or the team that goes out on the court and competes every game.”
Last Thursday, Texas announced that it had fired Beard, ending his run in Austin as the allegations against him remain under investigation, per the Travis County district attorney’s office.
The university’s vice president of legal affairs, Jim Davis, said Beard was “unfit to serve as head coach at our university.”
Beard’s attorney, Perry Minton, has maintained his client’s innocence and said the university made a “terrible decision” in firing him.
Few coaches have risen as quickly as Beard had. After leading Arkansas-Little Rock, a 12-seed, to a first-round upset over Purdue, a 5-seed, in the 2016 NCAA tournament, he became one of the top Power Five coaching candidates in the country.
He left a few months later for Texas Tech, where he spent five seasons and led the team to an overtime loss in the national title game in 2019.
His ascent continued in 2021 when Texas — his alma mater and “dream school” — hired him as its head coach.
The Longhorns had picked Beard, hoping he could lead the program past the second round of the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2008.
Beard guided the Longhorns to the second round of the NCAA tournament in his only season at the helm and landed some top recruits and transfers in the country in his first two seasons.
Cunningham said he was not angry at Beard.
“I can only speak for myself: There’s no resentment toward coach Beard,” Cunningham said. “An event happened, and now he’s no longer with us. That’s the bare bones of it. We’re trying to go win games.”