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College Basketball

It Should Be Simple For Texas To Do The Right Thing Here

Texas Longhorns head coach Chris Beard.
Dustin Satloff/Getty Images

Texas men's basketball head coach Chris Beard was arrested early Monday morning on felony domestic violence charges, but Texas didn't suspend him until the evening, shortly before tip-off, and only after local news outlets published the police report of the incident, which included the victim's account of the assault and a description of her injuries.

The woman told police she and Beard had been upset with each other over unspecified relationship issues. She said she took Beard's reading glasses from his hand and broke them. She said he then slapped her glasses from her face.

"He just snapped on me and became super violent," she said, per the report. She said Beard "choked me, threw me off the bed, bit me, bruises all over my leg, throwing me around, and going nuts." She also said that Beard put his arm around her neck and choked her for five seconds, during which she couldn't breathe.

According to the incident report, the woman's injuries included: bite mark to the right forearm; abrasion to the right eyebrow; abrasion to the left leg from the knee to the foot; and a cut to the left thumb with dried blood. In an additional statement, the woman complained of scratches on her back and her right eye, a bite mark to her right arm, an abrasion and bruises to her left leg, and a cut to her left hand.

Beard, according to the report, told police who responded to the 911 call that he had audio recordings that proved he was not the primary aggressor. When they asked to review the recordings, he said no.

Beard posted $10,000 bail and was released from jail at 2:44 p.m. CT, under a court order to stay 200 yards away from the victim. Beard took no questions from reporters.

Three hours later, Texas, which had said in an earlier statement that it was "monitoring the legal process," announced his suspension.

The suspension was announced about an hour before the men's basketball team was set to tip off against Rice. Associate head coach Rodney Terry took over as acting head coach for the game.

I got last-minute tickets to the game and showed up to the Moody Center wondering if there would be any chants or signs, in the student section or elsewhere, referencing that Beard was absent and why. But from tip-off through overtime, I saw no indication whatsoever that anything was amiss. The student section and band were loud and waving long skinny balloons; an enthusiastic fan next to me screamed for Texas to get the ball to freshman forward Dillon Mitchell; the arena booed when the refs called a shot-clock violation to give Rice the final shot of regulation; everyone cheered when Texas prevailed in overtime.

On TV, though, the Longhorn Network kicked off its game coverage by addressing Beard's arrest.

Broadcasters Lowell Galindo and Lance Blanks recapped the events, calling it "serious and heavy" as well as "dark and ominous," before turning their attention to the game. As far as these things go, LHN at least managed not to minimize the seriousness of the charges against Beard.

After the game, acting head coach Rodney Terry told the media he couldn't speak about the situation but said that he "loves Beard like my own brother."

Beard is in his second year of a seven-year contract that pays him $5 million a year. The Austin American-Statesman wrote:

There is a clause in the contract allows the university to terminate or suspend Beard with cause for "Any conduct (a) that the University administration reasonably determines is clearly unbecoming to a Head Coach and reflects poorly on the University, the Program, or The University of Texas System; or (b) resulting in a criminal charge being brought against Head Coach involving a felony, or any crime involving theft, dishonesty, or moral turpitude."

Beard's lawyer said in a statement Monday that Beard is "100 percent innocent of these charges," which is a little hard to buy in the face of the bite marks and blood on the victim. The decision about Beard's continued employment at Texas should not be difficult, and if the team weren't actually good this year, or still on the hook for $30 million that likely won't be surrendered without a legal fight, it's not hard to imagine the university cutting him loose as fast as possible. But Texas is ranked seventh in the country; there's a lot at stake and a lot of money on the line. UT is about to face the test that many schools before it have, and which many have failed: Is anything more important than winning?

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