WATCH: Hocutt insists Beard departure is ‘change in direction, not a setback’

Kirby Hocutt statement before questions

LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Texas Tech Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt insists it’s “not a setback, but a change in direction” as Coach Chris Beard leaves the basketball program to take a job with the University of Texas.

Hocutt said he was told this was not a financial decision for the coach, and that Texas Tech wasn’t even given a chance to make a counter offer.

Hocutt admitted “frustration” and “disappointment” to see a Texas Tech coach take another job in the conference and in the same state.

Beard spoke to his players and told Hocutt Thursday morning, April 1 at 10 a.m. April 1 was the deadline for Beard’s contract buyout to drop to $4 million. It was a six-day search for UT.

Coach Beard expressed his pride in the Red Raiders and Red Raider Nation in this statement from the University of Texas:

“It’s been a whirlwind of a day. It’s a difficult and emotional day in a lot of ways as I leave Texas Tech, a place where I’m very appreciative of not only my five years as a head coach but also my 10 years as an assistant. I owe so much to Texas Tech University. From the players and their families to the administration, students, alumni, season-ticket holders and the entire Red Raider Nation, we were able to build something incredibly special and unique. We took the program to new heights TOGETHER resulting in a Big 12 Championship, a berth on Monday night in the National Championship Game, an Elite Eight appearance and three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances for the first time in school history. I am truly thankful for all the people of West Texas and their incredible support. Thank you, you have provided memories that will last a lifetime.”

Texas Tech will be hiring a search firm to work with a four-person search committee consisting of Hocutt himself, Texas Tech President Lawrence Schovanec, Texas Tech Regent Dusty Womble, and former Texas Tech great Tony Battie.

Hocutt denied rumors of Beard being unhappy, saying Beard was deeply involved in the construction of the new Womble facility, and was not upset about any particular sponsorship or aspect of the program.

“I hope we were open-minded and provided full consideration,” Hocutt said. “Can’t think of anything today that we didn’t do the best we could.”

Hocutt said they offered Beard a “rolling” or “lifetime” contract back in November but the coach didn’t appear interested in that kind of deal.

Hocutt said Beard invited his entire staff to come with him to Austin. Mark Adams and Sean Sutton are still listed as being with the program.

Hocutt said they will be focusing “every waking moment” on the search for a new coach, but that every search is unique, and he couldn’t offer a timeline for hiring as of Thursday afternoon.

Multiple sources identified Beard as a front runner to be the next coach of the Longhorns after Shaka Smart’s departure from the University of Texas. Smart parted ways with UT to take the head coaching job at Marquette University.

Beard is an alum from the University of Texas, graduating with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Kinesiology back in 1995. Beard served as a student assistant for the Longhorns during his time at UT.

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