UNLV introduces Chris Beard as Runnin' Rebels coach

LAS VEGAS (AP) Chris Beard had to wait for UNLV's Board of Regents to ratify his contract, costing him precious recruiting time.

Now that he's officially the Runnin' Rebels' head coach, Beard is ready to hit the ground running.

''I'm not sure what the vote was but I think we won,'' Beard said at his introductory news conference on Friday. ''I'm honored, really excited, just lost a couple hours in recruiting, so I've got to get to work immediately, but I won't let any of you down.''

Beard made a quick jump to big-time basketball, landing the UNLV job after one season coaching at Arkansas-Little Rock, his first as a Division I coach.

He had quick success at UALR, leading the Trojans to a school- and Sun Belt Conference-record 30 wins. The Trojans started the season with 10 straight wins, another conference record, and went undefeated at home for the first time since 1981-82.

As No. 12 seed, UALR upset No. 5 seed Purdue for their first NCAA Tournament win in three decades.

Now, Beard takes over a UNLV program trying to regain its status as one of the nation's elite programs.

Dave Rice led the Runnin' Rebels to consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances his first two seasons, but the Rebels missed the bracket the past three seasons despite bringing in some of the nation's top recruits. He was fired in January and Todd Simon served as the interim coach before becoming the head coach at Southern Utah.

Beard previously worked as an assistant coach at Texas and Texas Tech before landing the job at Little Rock. He also served as a head coach at two junior colleges, two Division II schools and a semipro team.

''He's going to be a great coach for us, and I think he's been working all these different places just to come to UNLV and build our program back where we need to be,'' UNLV athletic director Tina Kunzer-Murphy said.

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