Chris Beard has made some serious career moves in the past 13 months. On March 17th, 2015, his Angelo State Rams were eliminated from the NCAA Division II Tournament by Tarleton State in the South-Central Regional Final. Less than a month later on April 8th, Beard was named the new head coach of the Little Rock Trojans.
In his one season in Little Rock, Beard went 30-5 (17-3), won both the Sun Belt regular season and tournament titles, was awarded Sun Belt Coach of the Year honors and knocked off 5-seed Purdue in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Now today, just about a year and a week after being bounced from the Division II Tourney, Beard becomes the head coach at UNLV.
The Trojans’ incredible season and wild NCAA Tournament comeback win made Beard a buzzy coaching prospect, despite having just one year of Division I head coaching under his belt. UNLV was looking to make a splash, first going after Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin, who is rumored to have verbally accepted the position while in Vegas only to back off upon his return home. Beard will look to breathe some life back into a UNLV program that has not won an NCAA Tournament game since 2008. The Runnin’ Rebels have a long and decorated history, winning the National Championship in 1990 and reaching the Final Four on three other occasions.
The talent level has not been the issue for UNLV, as previous head coach Dave Rice regularly landed top recruits during his tenure. Beard faces the task of continuing the recruiting success while also utilizing the available talent and putting together a competitive team in what should be a wide-open Mountain West.
Today’s news is just another checkpoint on the meteoric rise of Chris Beard, who also was head coach at McMurry (Div III), Seminole State JC, Fort Scott CC and even for the South Carolina Warriors of the American Basketball Association. Division I assistant positions include stops at Texas Tech, North Texas and Abilene Christian. Beard’s first gig was as a student assistant for the Texas Longhorns, while he earned his bachelor’s degree, from 1991-1995.