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Chris Beard departs UNLV for Texas Tech

UNLV to receive $1 million buyout as coaching search restarts

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L.E. Baskow

New UNLV basketball coach Chris Beard speaks with the media after a welcome gathering Friday, April 8, 2016, at Mendenhall Center.

The tenure of the latest UNLV basketball coach lasted only a week.

Seven days after officially becoming the 14th head coach in UNLV history, Chris Beard is leaving to pursue the coaching job at Texas Tech, according to a statement from UNLV.

“Coach Beard has informed me he intends to pursue the men’s basketball head coaching job at Texas Tech. This unprecedented move is extremely disappointing to the president and I, for our program and to our fans," UNLV Athletics Director Tina Kunzer-Murphy said.

"Our search process allowed us to develop a deep pool of qualified candidates, from which we will select a great coach who really wants to be here and who will honor his commitments in leading the Runnin’ Rebels,” she said.

UNLV will receive a $1 million buyout from Texas Tech.

The move allows Beard to stay closer to home, as he grew up in the Houston area and his family including his three daughters continue to reside in Texas. It also returns him to the place where he’s spent the majority of his coaching career, as Beard spent a decade with the Red Raiders on the staffs of Bob Knight and Pat Knight.

In total, Beard has spent 20 of his 25 years in the coaching profession working in Texas.

He’s also expected to receive a salary increase from Texas Tech after signing a five-year, $5.75 million with UNLV. From a basketball standpoint, the Red Raiders appear better positioned than the Rebels.

They lose two seniors, but advanced to the NCAA Tournament with a No. 8 seed this season with a roster comprised largely of underclassmen. Only four players currently remain on the UNLV roster, with the status of all three on scholarship unclear, coming off of a season where it underachieved with an 18-15 record.

Still, Beard considered the challenges that came with coaching at UNLV conquerable at his introductory press conference last Friday. He stood unaware then that the Texas Tech job would become available.

It was a shock to the college basketball world when Memphis filled its vacancy by hiring veteran coach Tubby Smith away from Texas Tech. Reports circulated Wednesday, and Smith agreed to a 5-year, $15.45 million deal Thursday.

Beard was linked to Texas Tech immediately, on the same day that was the start of college basketball’s spring signing period. The final signing date is May 18, meaning the next UNLV coach will have a month or less to assemble next year’s team.

Those who interviewed for the coaching vacancy before the Rebels lured Beard away from Arkansas Little-Rock included New Mexico State coach Marvin Menzies and UNLV assistants Stacey Augmon and Ryan Miller. They would appear the logical starting point as candidates going forward.

USA Today reports veteran coach George Karl, who was fired by the Sacramento Kings earlier in the week, has reached out to UNLV about the job.

Case Keefer can be reached at 702-948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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