Texas Officially Fires Beard, Then Releases Letters Between Lawyers
On December 12th, 2022, news broke that Chris Beard was involved in a domestic incident in which he was arrested, booked and seen by a judge. At the time, it was fairly obvious that because of the events that had taken place, according to language in Beard's contract, he could be fired with cause.
Now, nearly a month later, that has finally happened.
Chris Del Conte informed Beard this afternoon via email and letter that he would be relieved of his duties, and that the University was terminating for cause. The University also gave immediate termination of the Baseline Group LLC agreement of July 12th of 2021. The Baseline Group LLC was dissolved in 2022.
All of the above is fairly straight forward to me. Beard was arrested and initially charged with a crime, the University is within their right at that point to fire with cause, but waited to let the process play out.
What clouds the situation is that the charges are likely to be dropped according to Chris Beard's lawyer and the lawyer said in a letter to the University today that it seemed like Chris Del Conte and the Longhorns administration agreed with that assessment in a letter dated January 5, 2023 saying "Coach Beard has not done anything to violate any provision of his contract with the University of Texas. Up until today, I had great solace in the fact that the University has reported to me the fervent desire of the Board of Regents, the President, and the Athletic Director to make decisions based solely upon the facts.”
Beards lawyer, Perry Minton leaned heavily on the December 23 statement from Beard’s fiancée to say that Beard was innocent and that Del Conte was on Beard's side. According to the letter sent this morning prior to the firing, Beard and his team were shocked that he was getting fired and that, "Chris Del Conte has repeatedly reported to our team that he is certain Chris Beard did nothing wrong — and is innocent."
Beard's lawyer also claimed there was zero communication or independent investigation into the incident. It also claims that both University strongly preferred that Beard resigned so they didn't have to terminate him, but Beard really wanted to remain the coach. You know, because he was innocent and stuff, “He would much prefer to remain the head men’s basketball coach of the University of Texas.”
The University of Texas Lawyers were swift and concise in their response.
To respond to the opinion that Del Conte was "on Chris Beard's side" the University's position is that Del Conte's support of Beard was only to, "pause before action and by presuming his innocence while the facts unfolded." Nothing more. The University Lawyer doubled down saying, "It is a mistake to view a manager’s support to an employee as a statement of belief in criminal guilt or innocence."
The University Lawyer claps back at Minton saying that there's an incorrect assumption that the "cause" for firing is the legal process and not the actual conduct of Beard, who has yet to take ownership of the situation.
The final paragraph says it all, "Your letter this 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. For these reasons, the university proceeds to terminate Mr. Beard."
Both of these letters came after a heads up the morning of from Del Conte to Beard that he would be terminated and had one more chance to resign. Beard allegedly refused to resign, then the lawyers traded letters before Del Conte made it official and the University released both letters.
Following Beard’s termination, Minton released a statement, with an early misspelling because of it's haste apparently.
"Chris Beard is crushed at the news he will not be couching at the University of Texas. At the outset of Coach Beard’s suspension, The University promised they would conduct an independent investigation surrounding the allegations and make a decision regarding his employment only after they had done so. They proceeded to terminate Coach Beard without asking a single question of him or his fiancée. Since the arrest, there have only been positive developments clearly demonstrating his innocence. Additionally, it is my opinion shared by others that any potential charges against Coach Beard will be declined very soon. This is in addition to the statements made by his fiancée that emphatically state that the original reports were inaccurate. I am concerned that the University of Texas has made a terrible decision against the interest of the University, based on Twitter feeds and editorials –and not the facts concerning a truly innocent man. The University has violated their agreement with the coach and we are devastated."
I'm not a legal expert, but if Chris Beard's legal team think that a dropped charge equals no charge then they might pursue legal action against the University.
From the players perspective, this might be a load off the minds with a resolution in the case. Especially if Minton's assertions that Del Conte was telling the team that Beard was innocent and everything is fine were true.
My assumption though, is that legal action will take place.
In the meantime, acting head coach Rodney Terry now officially becomes interim head coach Rodney Terry for the remainder of this season. Texas is currently 12-2 and ranked 6th in the country. The Longhorns only loss under Terry came this week against Kansas State. They play Oklahoma State on Saturday.
31 People Arrested in Lubbock the Week Leading up to the New Year (December 27, 2022 - January 2, 2023)