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UNLV hires Chris Beard as head coach

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UNLV has finally made a choice as its next head coach to replace Dave Rice.

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

UNLV has found its next head coach as they decided to hire Arkansas Little-Rock's Chris Beard, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The coaching search went through multiple names which included a pair of rejections from Mick Cronin of Cincinnati and St. Mary's Randy Bennett, plus New Mexico State's Marvin Menzies withdrawing from consideration.

There are some concerns with Beard as he has spent only one year as a Division I head coach while at Arkansas-Little Rock. However, in his first year on the job he turned around a Trojans program that won 13 games before his arrival and ended up winning 30 games. He also made it to the Round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament which included a win over Purdue.

At least for one year he has shown he can build a program and not just by inheriting a team where its prior coach took a better job, but he actually got the most out of the talent with his style of play and coaching abilities.

Prior to moving to the Division I level, Beard was the head coach at Division II at Angelo State where he had a combined record of 47-15 and in his second year guided them to the third round of the NCAA Tournament.

He also was the head coach in the ABA for the South Carolina Warriors and led them to a 29-2 record. He was the associate head coach at Texas Tech under Bobby Knight and has been assistants at North Texas and the University of Texas.

Financial terms of the deal are not yet known but it is reportedly going to be a five-year contract. At Little Rock, Beard made $260,000 annually, so UNLV could more than double his pay and still pay about quarter less than the $2 million offer the Rebels had in place for Cincinnati's Mick Cronin. UNLV does have to pay Arkansas Little-Rock a $200,000 buyout in two annual payments.

Beard is already starting off his UNLV coaching career with a bump in the road as two key players are no longer in the program as Stephen Zimmerman is off to the NBA Draft and has hired an agent, plus Dwayne Morgan is reportedly transferring to be closer to his ill mother.