Texas Longhorns name Texas Tech's Chris Beard as new head basketball coach

The Texas Longhorns have named Texas Tech's Chris Beard as their new men's basketball head coach, the school announced Thursday.

"When we began discussing potential candidates to lead our Men's Basketball program, Chris Beard's name kept coming up," said Chris Del Conte, UT vice president and athletic director, in a statement released by the school. "We've all seen what he's done in building Texas Tech into a national force, recognize his wealth of knowledge and experience, and his track record at every place he's been is extraordinary."

Beard's buyout to go to another Big 12 school dropped to $4 million on Thursday morning, sources told ESPN, and the two sides moved quickly to come to an agreement.

Beard, 48, made the decision early Thursday, according to Red Raiders athletic director Kirby Hocutt.

"Talked to him about 10:30 last night, made a final decision today. Something I could tell had been weighing on him [Wednesday night] and settled this morning," Hocutt said. "Frustrating? Absolutely. Disappointing? Absolutely.

"You know, you work along[side] somebody for five years and you invest into this program and you grow this program. And of course his leadership had a great deal to do with that. But you know, at the same time, there are other components that have led to the success of Texas Tech basketball."

Hocutt said Beard told him "he was ready for another challenge. I don't fully understand it. It obviously wasn't for better fan support or better facilities. He told me it was not for financial reasons." He added that Texas Tech was prepared to give Beard a "lifetime rolling contract."

"And you have somebody that then walks away to go to an in-conference school, an in-state school," he said. "Absolutely, that frustrates you. Heck yeah it does."

Beard, who earned his bachelor's degree from Texas in 1995 and worked as a student assistant under then-head coach Tom Penders, said he is ecstatic about returning to the school.

"I'm thrilled and excited to be coming back to Austin and back to the Longhorn family," Beard said in a statement. "I can't express how excited I am for this opportunity and the journey that lies ahead. Our top priority will be embracing our players as soon as we get to campus, and I look forward to starting this journey together towards our championship goals.

"It's been a whirlwind of a day," Beard added. "It's a difficult and emotional day in a lot of ways as I leave Texas Tech, a place where I'm very appreciative of not only my five years as a head coach but also my 10 years as an assistant. I owe so much to Texas Tech University."

Beard has established himself as one of the best coaches in the country during his five seasons at Texas Tech, leading the Red Raiders to a national title game appearance in 2019 and the Elite Eight in 2018. They finished 18-11 (9-8 Big 12) this season before losing to Arkansas in the second round of the NCAA tournament. His overall record there was 112-55.

While Beard was making nearly $5 million per year at Texas Tech, going to Texas offered him a chance at one of the best jobs in the country -- and one where he had a personal connection to the program.

Before taking over at Texas Tech in 2016, Beard spent one season as the head coach at Arkansas Little Rock, leading the Trojans to 30 wins, an NCAA tournament appearance and a first-round upset win over Purdue.

Beard has taken one of the more circuitous routes to the top of the college basketball pyramid, spending time as an assistant coach at Abilene Christian and North Texas before going to Fort Scott Community College and Seminole State Junior College. After a decade as an assistant coach at Texas Tech under Bob Knight and Pat Knight, Beard coached the South Carolina Warriors of the American Basketball Association and then spent one season at McMurry University and two seasons at Angelo State.

Beard replaces Shaka Smart, who left Texas for Marquette last week after six seasons in Austin.

Beard will be formally introduced at a news conference at Texas on Friday, the school said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.