Mark Anderson of the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that Little Rock’s Chris Beard has agreed in principle to become the head basketball coach of the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels.

ESPN’s Jeff Goodman is hearing that it will be a five-year deal between Beard and UNLV.

When you consider that Beard has only head-coached one season at the Division I level, it’s pretty stunning that he landed a job with a basketball program that has made the NCAA Tournament six times since 2007 (and won the National Championship in 1990).

But what’s even more stunning is the job Beard did this season with the Little Rock Trojans. After the Trojans went 13-18 (8-12 in the Sun Belt) in 2014-15, they went 30-5 (17-3 in the Sun Belt; first place) in 2015-16 under Beard’s leadership, and of course had the incredible upset victory over fifth-seeded Purdue in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Beard was also head coach at the Division II level for Angelo State (2013-15) and McMurry (2012-13), and served as an assistant under Bob and Pat Knight from 2001-11 at Texas Tech.

Beard, 43, replaces interim UNLV head coach Todd Simon. Simon had taken over as the Runnin’ Rebels head coach after Dave Rice was fired in January. After starting 7-1 with impressive non-conference victories over Oregon and Indiana, UNLV hit a serious rough patch and went just 18-15 (and 8-10 in a bad year for the MWC) on the season. When Rice was fired, UNLV was 9-7 and 0-3 in conference play.

The Runnin’ Rebels reportedly wanted to hire Cincinnati’s Mick Cronin as head coach, but Cronin turned down their offer last week. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that UNLV “was willing to pay Cronin north of $2 million” annually, so it will be interesting to see the financial details of Beard’s contract. It should certainly be much more than the $260,000 Beard made per year at Little Rock, at least.

About Matt Clapp

Matt is an editor at The Comeback. He attended Colorado State University, wishes he was Saved by the Bell's Zack Morris, and idolizes Larry David. And loves pizza and dogs because obviously.

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