First Year Little Rock basketball coach Chris Beard is expected to become the next coach at UNLV, according to multiple sources reporting to the Las Vegas Review Journal. Beard led the Trojans to a school record 30 wins, claiming both the regular season and conference tournament championships along the way.
Immediately after Little Rock defeated Purdue in the first round of the NCAA tournament, giving the school only their second tournament win in history, rumors began swirling about teams interested in Beard. Most seemed to be unsubstantiated rumors, simply throwing in a hot name in coaching with an available job. Late last week Beard’s name began gaining traction in connection with the UNLV job, and Beard traveled to Las Vegas over the weekend to meet with officials from the university.
UNLV, once a basketball powerhouse, has failed to advance beyond the first round of the tournament since 2008. Midway through the 8-15 season the team released head coach David Rice Beard after 4 1/2 seasons. Rice was unable to reach the tournament in either of the past two seasons, and was replaced by interim head coach Todd Simon in early January.
Beard has had success every step of the way. Most commonly associated with his time as an assistant at Texas Tech, Beard, 42, has coached a number of lower division teams along with an ABA basketball team before taking over at Little Rock. Beard spent two years at Angelo State, leading them to a Division II sweet 16 before joining the Trojans.
Beard’s contract at Little Rock stipulates a buy out of $200,000 paid to over two years and the option of a two-year home and home series with Beard’s new team.
Even with Beard’s departure, the Trojans should be a strong team next season as long as a new head coach can retain most of the players. First year athletic director Chasse Conque has dramatically risen the profile of the program, and shows a willingness to build long-term success, something that should be attractive to a new candidate.
Little Rock has yet to give an official word on Beard’s departure, we will update with any statements from the university.