After five seasons, Beard resigns as Morgan coach

Final year started with 18-game skid

College basketball


After a trying season that started with 18 consecutive losses, Morgan State men's basketball coach Butch Beard resigned yesterday, effective immediately.

The program went backward following two straight seasons of improvement. The Bears finished with a 4-26 record, including 4-14 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, and were the No. 11 and lowest seed for the conference tournament. Morgan lost in the first round to eventual champion Hampton.

In a statement released by Morgan, the former collegiate and pro player and coach thanked the school for a five-year opportunity and "all the past and present student athletes for their hard work and dedication. I am leaving Morgan State to pursue other opportunities."

Said Morgan athletic director Floyd Kerr: "His was a personal decision to retire and move on. To me, it is admirable and demonstrates his dignity. Coach Beard ran an efficient program, a compliant program and always worked within the parameters of his budget. I am very grateful for that."

Academic troubles and several player suspensions undermined the Bears, who were trying to perform nearly half of the season with a razor-thin bench. At one time, the team was down to six players.

Morgan's ranks swelled later in the season with additions, particularly Tyree Spinner, a 6-foot-7, 300-pound former tight end for the football team. But for the most part, guard Joe McLean was the only consistent scorer.

Beard compiled a 39-104 overall record since assuming the head coaching job in 2001. He was named MEAC Coach of the Year in 2002-03, his second such honor. In 1991-92, he guided Howard University to both the regular-season and tournament titles in the league.

The team's best season under Beard was 2004-05, when it was 10-1 at Hill Field House, losing only to cross-town rival Coppin State, and 14-16 overall. That was the school's best record in six years.

Kerr said the search for a replacement will begin immediately.

Kerr said he "is sure there is interest" in the coaching ranks and "we want a new coach as soon as possible. One of the assistant coaches is being considered."

He would not identify the assistant, but it is believed to be Lamont "Speedy" Pennick, who has been at Morgan since 1998.

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