White privilege will always be a part of Chris Beard’s story, but that’s due to his race. However, his ability to remain hireable is due to his talent…and his race.
Amid a sign-stealing scandal turning college football upside down, the beginning of the NBA season, the LSU women’s team getting obliterated by Colorado, and the weekly happenings of the NFL, even the most diligent sports fan may have overlooked that the return of college basketball means that Chris Beard is back coaching — so much for believing women.
On Friday night, Ole Miss will face Eastern Washington in their second game of the season, as they’re looking to go 2-0 after defeating Alabama State 69-59 in their season opener.
“First of all, it’s all about the players,” Beard said after the game in an attempt to take the spotlight off himself. “I always feel that way on opening night… They work so hard. The summer, the preseason, the practices, and then you get to game night and you just don’t want it to backfire.
“There’s no place I don’t think anybody would rather be right now than Oxford, Mississippi,” he said.
That wouldn’t have been the case if Beard hadn’t been run out of Austin, Texas.
“(Beard) was guilty of ‘unacceptable behavior that makes him unfit to serve as head coach at our university,” Texas’ vice president for legal affairs, Jim Davis, said about the school’s decision to fire him with cause in January. Beard was involved in a he-said/she-said felony domestic violence arrest with his fiancée, which later turned into a “she said he didn’t do it” situation.
“He choked me, threw me off the bed, bit me, bruises all over my leg, throwing me around, and going nuts,” his fiancée told officers after the incident.
Because of how good he is at coaching basketball, and the perks that come along with being a white man in America, anybody with a brain knew that Beard would be hired again sooner than later. A few months later, Ole Miss came calling. At his introductory press conference, Beard was asked if he put his arm on his fiancée’s throat. The coward refused to answer.
“Randi and I have agreed not to talk about the details of not only that night but kind of the nights that we went through this process,” he said. “But what I can tell you is, much of what was reported was not accurate, and that’s been proven with the case not only being dismissed, charges dropped, but also, Randi’s statement on Dec. 23.”
The charges against Beard were dropped largely due to his fiancée wanting them to be. “While I always had faith and confidence in the truth and this outcome, it has been extremely challenging to wait patiently and not publicly respond. I’m sorry and deeply remorseful to my family, friends, all my players and staff both most recent and past, and everyone at my alma mater The University of Texas,” he wrote in a statement that allowed Ole Miss to come in and scoop him up like nothing had ever happened.
“What we learned is that the initial reports were not accurate, not an accurate reflection of the events that happened,” said Ole Miss athletic director Keith Carter at Beard’s introductory press conference. “We had multilevel conversations with a number of people surrounding that night, and coach Beard was extremely transparent with our discussions with him.”
According to local outlets, two of Beard’s daughters were onstage with him that day. His fiancée wasn’t. This is the man Ole Miss fans will be cheering for.
In college athletics, the coaches have all the power. A program’s identity is directly tied to whoever blows the whistle. And down in Mississippi, Chris Beard has been deemed appropriate to determine how that program will be operated. That’s not only a bad look for Ole Miss, it’s one for college basketball.