The Big 12 on Thursday issued a public reprimand to Chris Beard for the Texas Tech basketball coach’s blowup Tuesday night that got him ejected from the game against West Virginia game.
No fine was issued.
“Coach Beard’s conduct was inconsistent with sportsmanship expectations in the Big 12 Conference,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said in the announcement. “He is being issued a public reprimand, and put on notice that any future sportsmanship violations may lead to a more severe penalty.”
In a letter to Bowlsby obtained by A-J Media, Texas Tech athletics director Kirby Hocutt contended that Beard did not violate the conference policy on sportsmanship. Hocutt noted that Beard had gone nearly five years without a technical foul and that, during Beard’s time as Tech head coach, his team has not had more than three player technical fouls in a season — evidence, Hocutt said, of the pride Beard takes in having a good relationship with officials.
Beard was ejected late in the Red Raiders’ 82-71 loss to No. 14 West Virginia.
Trailing 77-71 with 23.5 seconds left, the two-time Big 12 coach of the year began to let out frustration in a game that featured 49 foul calls — one important one on Tech forward Kevin McCullar, who fouled out attempting to grab a loose ball from West Virginia guard Miles McBride.
Sean McNeil made three of the four technical free throws and McBride hit both of his regular free throws to salt away the game for the Mountaineers.
After coming onto the court to yell and gesture at officials, Beard dropped to the floor and performed a timeout signal. That was in response to what he viewed as the officials missing a timeout call made by a West Virginia player.
Even as he let his frustrations get the best of him in the moment, and his assistants attempting to calm him down, Beard took time to fist-bump West Virginia coach Bob Huggins before jogging to the locker room.
In a letter sent to Bowlsby, Hocutt wrote:
“This letter is in response to your email regarding a possible sportsmanship incident in our men’s basketball game against West Virginia. Your email states that head coach Chris Beard exhibited unsportsmanlike behavior towards the officials resulting in two technical fouls and ejection from the game.
“This incident occurred near the end of the game following some subjective decisions by the officials. Due to the reasons explained below, it is our position that a violation of C.R. 12.3.5 (Other Misconduct) did not occur. Chris Beard exemplifies sportsmanship on the court and towards the officials. Not only does he live it, but he also talks about it with the team frequently. In his nearly five years in the Big 12 he has not received one technical foul until this last game. He speaks to the team and reminds them about the importance of showing sportsmanship not only on the court but also through their communication.
“We take pride in the fact that as a team we have a very low number of technical fouls. Since Chris has been here, we have never had more than 3 player technical fouls in any given season. In his post-game comments, Chris praised the three officials when asked about the officiating in the game.
“Chris said, ‘These guys are the best of the best. These three guys out there tonight, not only do I like, but I respect and trust them. But in college basketball, sometimes you just got to fight for the players and that was my decision tonight to do that.’ I respectfully will state that it is our position that we have not violated the Other Misconduct policy of the Conference. Please contact me if you have any questions or would like to discuss further.”
In his post-game press conference, Beard specified the technical fouls were not meant to send a message, but as a sign he was “fighting for your players.”
“From a coaching standpoint, you have to fight for your players,” Beard said Tuesday night. “Obviously college basketball, you guys know the Big 12 policy and all that. I would just say that from my point of view, the West Virginia player was calling for timeout on the floor. I could see it and hear it from where I was standing.
“It’s still a two-possession game at that point. If that call is made, we have a chance to set up our press and still have a chance to play the game. That call sent a 90-percent free-throw shooter to the line and it’s going to separate the game to a three-possession game.”
Beard said he has a history not letting his emotions get the best of him.
“You guys know me. I’ve been in this league five years. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a technical,” Beard said. “At Arkansas Little Rock, I think we got one. That’s not my deal. I know what bad officiating looks like, I’ve coached at all different levels. These guys are the best of the best. These three guys out there tonight, not only do I like — I respect and trust them.
“In college basketball, sometimes you got to fight for the players. And that was my decision (Tuesday) to do that.”
The reprimand came with the Red Raiders focused on preparing for back-to-back games against TCU, starting with an 8 p.m. Monday contest in Fort Worth.