UNLV head coach Chris Beard has agreed to a five-year contract with Texas Tech, ESPN's Jeff Goodman reported on Friday. UNLV hired Beard just more than two weeks ago and only introduced him a week ago.
He leaves Las Vegas without even digging into his first offseason. Beard spent last season as the head coach at Arkansas-Little Rock, where his Trojans reached the second round of this spring's NCAA Tournament.
Beard's move puts UNLV in an exceptionally difficult spot. The coaching carousel hasn't completely stopped, but the Runnin' Rebels are now in an uncomfortable in-between. It's been three months now since they had a permanently installed head coach for more than two weeks, and the best candidates aren't still available. Several players have also left the program, for both the NBA Draft and transfers to other schools.
This isn't a good place to be, although USA Today reported that recently fired Sacramento Kings coach George Karl has interest in taking the UNLV job Beard vacates.
It's easy to criticize a coach for leaving a job so quickly after accepting it, especially when the NCAA generally bars players from transferring so rapidly and freely between schools. But Beard had a good reason, Goodman notes:
I’m told the biggest factor for Beard going to Texas Tech was his three daughters: Ages 16, 13, and 8. They live two hours from Lubbock.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) April 15, 2016
Beyond Beard's family, Texas Tech is a better job than UNLV, and he has a long history there:
It's clear Texas Tech is an upgrade from UNLV, if just for the stable roster situation alone. Beard would inherit a roster that will only graduate two players after an NCAA Tournament appearance while retaining its most efficient scorers. He'll also get to coach in a major conference and earn a major paycheck while doing so. If Beard makes the same annual salary as his predecessor -- $1,811,300 -- he'll nearly double the Rebels' offer. However, the job has appeal beyond just the obvious perks.
Beard has deep ties to the Red Raiders. He spent 10 seasons in Lubbock as the team's associate head coach under Bobby Knight. He was there for four NCAA Tournament appearances in six seasons. He's seen firsthand what it takes to win at Texas Tech. While he was on the sideline, the team won more than 57 percent of its games. Since his departure, that mark has dropped to just under 41 percent.
So, Beard's in a good spot. Goodman reports he'll get a sizable raise in Lubbock, and he'll be coaching at a place that seems like a great fit for him. But to do it, he had to give UNLV the shortest possible end of the stick.