UNLV Basketball: Chris Beard hired as Runnin' Rebels basketball coach
LAS VEGAS - The Board of Regents in a special meeting on Friday voted in favor of a five-year contract proposed by UNLV President Len Jessup and Director of Athletics Tina Kunzer-Murphy, which officially made Chris Beard the 12th full-time head coach in the history of Runnin' Rebel Basketball.
Beard was then introduced during a media conference held on campus inside the team's state-of-the-art practice facility, the Mendenhall Center.
"What a great day for UNLV and for Las Vegas," said Jessup. "My first meeting with Chris confirmed what I had seen and heard about him. He's a winner and wins the right way. He understands his responsibilities as coach to instill values that will help our student-athletes succeed on and off the court, and he has a vision to build a Runnin' Rebel program that will continue to serve as a source of pride for our university, community and fans."
Beard comes to Las Vegas after leading the University of Arkansas at Little Rock to a spectacular turnaround last season, which included both the Sun Belt's regular-season and tournament championship and a victory over No. 12/10 and fifth-seeded Purdue in the NCAA Tournament.
"Coach Beard is a straight-forward, trustworthy, plain-speaking, highly talented, exceptionally successful teacher and leader -- and we are absolutely certain he is the right person, the best person, to lead our program," said Kunzer-Murphy. "He will help our student-athletes grow as young men; he will make our University and community proud, and I have no doubt that he will transform our program and restore its stature regionally and nationally."
In his only year as head coach of the Trojans, Beard led the team to a 30-5 overall record after it was just 13-18 the previous season. Little Rock also recorded road victories this season at San Diego State, at Tulsa and at DePaul. He was named the Sun Belt's Coach of the Year.
Beard was an assistant coach at Texas Tech for 10 years, including seven under Hall of Famer Bob Knight, and has been a head coach at five other places before UNLV, winning everywhere he has been. In fact, he has often inherited sub-.500 teams and immediately turned them into winners.
In seven seasons as a head coach, Beard has a career record of 171-50 (.774). He was 47-15 (.758) at Angelo State before he took over at Little Rock.
At Angelo State he was named the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) South Central Region and Lone Star Conference Coach of the Year after leading the program to a record-setting 28 wins in 2014-15. His team was a perfect 17-0 that season and finished the year ranked No. 19 in the country. He also led the program to its first NCAA Division II Sweet 16 appearance. He inherited the program after it had suffered three straight losing seasons, including 7-19 in 2012-13.
Prior to Angelo State, Beard was the head coach at McMurry University and for the ABA's South Carolina Warriors. McMurry went 19-10 under Beard in its first season as a Division II member in 2012-13. With Beard as its head coach in 2011-12, South Carolina won the Mid Atlantic Championship, advanced to the ABA finals and posted a 31-2 mark as a first-year franchise.
At Texas Tech, he was named associate head coach in 2008 following Pat Knight's appointment as head coach. During his 10 years in Lubbock, the Red Raiders won 188 games -- the best 10-year stretch in program history -- while earning four NCAA Tournament bids and three NIT appearances. Beard's tenure at Texas Tech was highlighted by the Red Raiders' 2005 Sweet 16 run.
Before joining Knight's staff at Texas Tech, Beard also had head coaching experience at Seminole State College and Fort Scott Community College. At Seminole State during the 2000-01 season, Beard led the program to a 25-6 record and a No. 14 national ranking. In one season at Fort Scott, he helped the program to 19 wins and a NJCAA Regional.
Beard boasts three additional years of assistant coaching experience. Prior to two seasons (1997-99) at North Texas, he spent one season as an assistant at Abilene Christian. He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Incarnate Word.
Born in Marietta, Ga., and raised in Irving, Texas, Beard received his bachelor's degree in kinesiology from Texas in 1995. He has three daughters, Avery, Ella and Margo.
"UNLV is one of the most historic programs in college basketball history and I'm honored and humbled," said Beard. "I look forward to getting it done here at a high level in the near future. I want to thank President Jessup and Tina Kunzer-Murphy for making me feel so comfortable during the entire process. I am also very appreciative of the Board of Regents for trusting me with this job. This is a place where excellence is expected and I embrace that challenge."