By Neil Patrick Healy
The UNLV basketball program has hired a new head coach for the 2016-2017 season. The university announced Monday morning that it has hired Arkansas-Little Rock head coach Chris Beard. The terms of the contract were not specified, but it is expected to be a five-year deal.
“In Chris Beard, we have selected a head coach who understands exactly what it takes to transform a program,” UNLV athletic director Tina Kunzer-Murphy said in a statement issued on Monday. “His coaching philosophy has been heavily shaped by legends such as Bobby Knight and Bill Self.
“He is committed to the academic, athletic and social development of his student-athletes, and he believes in toughness and effort. As we looked at a number of outstanding coaches who expressed interest in this position, it became increasingly clear that one of the key factors for success is previous experience as a college basketball head coach. In this environment, with the expectations and pressures that come with being head coach of the Runnin’ Rebels, previous experience leading a NCAA program is a critical factor.”
In his one season with the team, Beard led Arkansas-Little Rock to a 30-5 record and an upset win over Purdue in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. He won Sun Belt Coach of the Year after a 17-win turnaround and leading the Trojans to the regular season and conference tournament championships.
“Chris is a high-character coach and proven winner with a clear vision for building a successful program on the court and in the classroom at UNLV,” university President Len Jessup said in a statement. “He is one of the rising head coaches in the sport, and we’re confident he’s the right person to lead our program and continue the proud, winning tradition of Runnin’ Rebel basketball.”
The terms of his contract will be reviewed by the University of Nevada Board of Regents and there won’t be a press conference until that is finished.
Neil Patrick Healy can be reached ay firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @ NP_Healy.