Chris Beard introduced as new Ole Miss basketball coach
Published 4:00 am Thursday, March 16, 2023
Ole Miss head men’s basketball coach Chris Beard was welcomed to Oxford and the Ole Miss community at the SJB Pavilion on Tuesday, March 14 with a public introduction.
Beard has led three different programs to the NCAA Tournament since 2016, including an appearance in the 2019 National Championship game and Elite Eight run the year before at Texas Tech. As a head coach, he owns a 237-98 record for one of the top winning percentages among active coaches in the nation at 70.7 percent. Beard also owns a career mark of 11-5 at the NCAA Tournament, highlighted by a perfect 5-0 record in the opening round.
“I am honored to be joining the Ole Miss family and excited to get started at this great university,” Beard said. “I can’t express how grateful I am to Chancellor Boyce, Keith Carter and the rest of the search committee for their belief in me to lead this program. I am really looking forward to being an active part of the Oxford community. I know we have one of the best venues in the country in the SJB Pavilion, and we are going to work tirelessly to build a championship caliber program. I can’t wait to connect with our players and recruits and begin this journey together. Hotty Toddy!”
Most recently, Beard was the head coach at his alma mater, the University of Texas, where he compiled a record of 29-13 over two years, including a 22-12 record and a second-round finish in the 2022 NCAA Tournament in his first season. That year, all five of his starters earned all-conference honors, highlighted by their defensive prowess as Texas led the Big 12 and ranked No. 10 nationally in scoring defense (60.6 points allowed per game) and No. 22 in the country in turnover margin (+3.4).
Prior to his tenure at Texas, Beard spent five seasons at Texas Tech, where he took a program with losing seasons in five of six years before his arrival and turned them into a national powerhouse. Compiling a record of 112-55 (.671) in five seasons, he took the program to new heights, with an Elite Eight appearance in just his second season before guiding the Red Raiders to the national title game in his third year. With no postseason in his fourth year due to COVID-19, he closed out his career at Texas Tech with 18 wins and an appearance in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Before his time at the helm in the Big 12, Beard was the head coach for one season at Little Rock, where he went 30-5, won the Sun Belt Conference title, and reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament. He previously spent two years as the head coach at Angelo State from 2013-2015, and one season as the head coach of McMurry.
Beard has coached three NBA draft picks since 2018, including first round pick Zhaire Smith by the Phoenix Suns at No. 16 in 2018, and lottery pick Jarrett Culver at No. 6 by the Suns in 2019.
On the recruiting trail, Beard has ranked among the very best in the country, earning top-10 class rankings in 2022, 2020, and 2018. His most recent class of 2022 at Texas was ranked No. 6 in the nation by 247Sports and No. 8 by Rivals, with his final class at Texas Tech in 2020 earning similar praise at No. 7 by Rivals and No. 11 by 247Sports. Prior to his national runner-up season at Texas Tech in 2018-19, his recruiting class was ranked No. 8 by Rivals.
He spent 10 seasons on staff at Texas Tech after he was hired as an assistant coach in 2001 under hall-of-fame coach Bob Knight, and spent three years as associate head coach from 2008 to 2011. Beard was the head coach at Seminole State college in 2000-01, going 25-6. He spent the previous season as the head coach of Fort Scott Community College, and was on staff as an assistant prior at North Texas for two seasons (1997-99) and Abilene Christian for one (1996-97).
Beard graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in kinesiology from Texas in 1995, where he also worked as a student assistant under head coach Tom Penders. He went on to receive his master’s degree in education from Abilene Christian University in 1998 after spending one year before that as a graduate assistant at Incarnate Word.