"The University of Texas has parted ways with Chris Beard. This has been a difficult situation that we've been diligently working through. Today [Jan. 5] I informed Mr. Beard of our decision to terminate him effective immediately," UT Vice President and Athletics Director Chris Del Conte said in a statement.
Del Conte also thanked Coach Rodney Terry for "his exemplary leadership both on and off the court at a time when our team needed it most," and said Terry will remain the acting head coach for the remainder of the season.
"We are proud of our student-athletes, coaches and staff, who throughout this difficult time have continued to make us proud to be Longhorns," Del Conte said.
In the notice of termination sent to Beard by UT, the university cited "Section 7(A)(12) of [Beard's] employment contract, Suspension of Termination by the University for Cause." The notice stated that, as noted in the contract, UT is no longer obligated to make further payment to Beard as of Jan. 5
Beard's attorney, Perry Minton, sent a letter to UT Thursday morning, stating that the termination "came as a shock" and asking, in part, what Beard has done to be terminated.
In a response to Minton, James E. Davis – vice president of legal affairs for UT – said in part:
"Being a head coach at The University of Texas at Austin is about more than winning games. The privilege of coaching comes with a great responsibility that goes beyond just avoiding improper conduct. A coach is a leader—a leader who develops student athletes' positive character, supports their education, prepares them for success in lives after graduation, and represents the University of Texas with honor and respect. A coach's influence is effected through both professional and personal interactions.
"Chris Beard engaged in unacceptable behavior that makes him unfit to serve as head coach at our university. Instead of immediately terminating Mr. Beard, the university exercised thoughtful restraint to allow time for additional material facts to emerge. Mr. Del Conte supported Mr. Beard and the program by supporting this pause before action and by presuming his innocence while the facts unfolded. But that support was not a determination regarding Mr. Beard's conduct—such a decision would have been premature. It is a mistake to view a manager's support for an employee as a statement of belief in criminal guilt or innocence. We understand that some but not all of the reports of Mr. Beard's behavior were retracted. It is his actual behavior that we consider, not whether some acts also constitute a crime. Whether or not the District Attorney ultimately charges Mr. Beard is not determinative of whether he engaged in conduct unbecoming a head coach at our university."
Davis also wrote that there seems to be "an incorrect underlying assumption that the criminal process outcome dictates Mr. Beard's employment outcome." But Davis said those are different processes, where "different decision makers are weighing different factors."
"Our evaluation of Mr. Beard's fitness for service is not contingent on whether he is also convicted of a particular crime or whether those charges are dismissed at some point," Davis said.
Davis added that the letter Minton sent to the university Thursday morning "reveals that Mr. Beard does not understand the significance of the behavior he knows he engaged in, or the ensuing events that impair his ability to effectively lead our program."
"This lack of self-awareness is yet another failure of judgment that makes Mr. Beard unfit to serve as a head coach at our university," Davis wrote.
Austin police arrested Beard last month. A police affidavit said that a woman to whom Beard is engaged told officers that he choked and bit her, among other forms of assault. Late last month, however, that woman, Randi Trew, released a statement saying that Beard may have been defending himself, that he never strangled her and that she never intended to have him arrested.
Beard is currently facing a third-degree felony assault charge.
The big question that remains is whether that charge is going to move forward. The short answer is that it's unknown.
On Wednesday, the Travis County District Attorney's office confirmed prosecutors are currently reviewing all evidence, including recent statements and all evidence collected by law enforcement.
The agency said, "Our office takes all allegations of domestic violence seriously. In each case, we are committed to working through the unique challenges presented."
It is not known when any decision could be made. Just because the person who made the complaint has now backtracked, it doesn't mean the case goes away.
Prior to his termination, Beard was indefinitely suspended without pay from UT Austin following his arrest.
As of Thursday, Beard has been removed from the men's basketball roster page. Rodney Terry is listed as the interim head coach.