Published Thursday, April 14, 2016 | 9 a.m.
Updated Thursday, April 14, 2016 | 10:01 p.m.
Chris Beard was introduced last Friday as the UNLV basketball coach. This Friday, he might be introduced for another job.
Beard is the leading candidate to replace Tubby Smith at Texas Tech, discussing the position with officials from the Lubbock, Texas, school tonight in the Las Vegas area. It’s an attractive landing spot for Beard, who spent 10 seasons as an assistant coach at Texas Tech. And, most important, his daughters still reside in Texas.
“Late this afternoon, I was contacted by the athletics director at Texas Tech seeking permission to speak with Coach Beard about its men’s basketball head coaching vacancy," said Tina Kunzer-Murphy, UNLV's athletic director, in a statement.
Fox News West Texas reported Thursday night that Beard accepted the Texas Tech offer. UNLV's statement indicates an answer won't come until Friday.
"I have since met with Coach Beard and we have agreed to have this resolved by tomorrow," Kunzer-Murphy said.
Smith accepted the Memphis job today to open the door for Beard to bolt Las Vegas without coaching a game.
Beard’s 5-year, $5.75 million contract at UNLV was approved last week by the Board of Regents. If he leaves, the contract calls for UNLV to receive a $1 million buyout.
Smith made $1.8 million annually at Texas Tech. It was reportedly willing to add another $1 million annually to sweeten the deal in negotiations to keep Smith from leaving. That means Beard, who in 2015-16 posted a 30-5 record and won a NCAA Tournament game at Arkansas-Little Rock, would be in line for a substantial raise.
If the speculation — it’s being reported by multiple outlets — was untrue, Beard surely would release a statement or post on social media. He, after all, is busy on the recruiting trail — the spring signing period started Wednesday — trying to add players to the depleted UNLV roster.
Beard’s departure would force UNLV to again hit the reset button. Holdover assistants Ryan Miller and Stacey Augmon from previous coach Dave Rice’s staff announced this week they won’t return. Beard’s UNLV assistants have yet to have their contracts approved, and haven’t been announced by the school.
Texas Tech Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt wouldn't confirm if Beard is on the short list to replace Smith. But, then again, he didn't deny it.
"I’m not going to comment on candidates," he said during a media conference to announce Smith's departure. "This is unexpected and as soon as we finish here my focus 24/7 is going to turn to this basketball coaching search. We will look throughout the country and make sure we bring the best man in to lead them moving forward."
This is a developing story. Check back later for more.