Last week, McM Director of Athletics Ron Holmes, when asked about the timeline in replacing Isler, joked that he'd like to be able to hire someone "in the next 10 minutes." While it took a bit longer, Holmes got his man in less than a week.
"I want to thank everybody involved in the search process," said Holmes, who himself coached McMurry basketball for 20 seasons between 1990-2010 before taking over as A.D. "We asked everyone involved in the search to do a lot in a very short period of time to not just get a coach - but a great coach - in place and demonstrate the University's commitment to its men's basketball program, as well as to ensure continuity moving forward.
"With Chris Beard, I believe we have achieved that goal!
"Chris brings all of the tools you could ask for in a head coach in having that perfect 'fit' for McMurry basketball as we transition to NCAA Division II. Chris knows the expectations having already been a college head coach, he has experience at the NCAA Division I level, he is a proven successful recruiter with established relationships to high schools and junior colleges alike, as well as having a great familiarity with this region and, specifically, Abilene."
On the collegiate level, Beard's most recent tenure was a 10-year stint at Texas Tech University. He was hired to be a part of the Red Raiders' staff as an assistant coach in 2001 by Hall of Fame coaching legend Bob Knight. Beard remained on the Tech staff and was promoted to associate head coach after Knight's son, Pat, took over as the Red Raiders head coach in 2008.
Prior to that time, Beard spent one season each as the head coach at both Seminole State College (2000-01) in Oklahoma and at Fort Scott Community College (1999-2000) in Kansas. At FSCC, his 19 wins was the most at the school in a decade and one win shy of the school record for victories in a season.
During those combined two seasons at the junior college level, Beard had every player graduate and go on to receive scholarships to four-year programs- 10 of those to NCAA Division I universities. He was a combined 44-18 and both teams advanced to their respective regional post-season tournaments.
In 1997-99 he served as an assistant coach at the University of North Texas. He held a similar position at Abilene Christian University in 1996-97. He was a graduate assistant coach at the University of the Incarnate Word (1995-96) and a student assistant for the University of Texas-Austin (1992-95).
Including his time coaching last year on the professional level with the ABA's South Carolina Warriors, Beard has a combined record of 73-20 as a head coach. The Warriors had a 29-2 record under Beard in the organization's inaugural season.
"I could not be more excited about the opportunity of taking over the basketball program at McMurry University," said Beard. "My philosophy is all about the players and we will do everything possible to ensure that they grow in the classroom, on the basketball court, in the community, and most importantly grow as young men.
"I would like to thank our Athletics Director, Ron Holmes, and our University President, Dr. John Russell, for this opportunity. McMurry University has great tradition in basketball with former successful coaches, including Coach Kimbrell and Coach Holmes. I look forward to leading the program into NCAA Division II basketball and continuing McMurry's winning tradition."
Beard earned his bachelor's degree in Kinesiology from Texas in 1995. He earned his master's in education in 1998 from ACU.
Beard and his wife Leslie have three daughters: Avery, Ella and Margo.
Beard will be guiding McMurry University's program into its first year as a provisional member of NCAA Division II and membership in the Heartland Conference. The War Hawks closed out their run in NCAA III with back-to-back American Southwest Conference tournament championships and subsequent berths in the NCAA Division III post-season championship tournament.
Beard will be introduced to the media, and the McMurry community, on Tuesday (May. 15) at 2 p.m. in the lobby of the Hunt Physical Education Building.