Texas fires Beard

Texas has fired men’s basketball coach Chris Beard, who faces a felony domestic family violence charge stemming from a Dec. 12 incident involving his fiancée, with the school telling his attorney on Thursday that Beard is “unfit” for the position.

Beard had five years left on a seven-year guaranteed contract that included a provision he could be fired for cause if he was charged with a felony or committed other behavior unbecoming of his position or that reflected poorly on the university.

The charge of assault by strangulation/suffocation family violence carries a possible prison sentence of two to 10 years if convicted; the woman told police Beard strangled and bit her, but later denied he choked her.

Auriemma still out

UConn women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma sat out the Huskies’ game at Xavier on Thursday, the fourth game he has missed this season because of illness.

The Hall of Fame coach also sat out Tuesday’s win at Butler. The school didn’t release a timetable for his return.


Harbaugh says he’s staying at Michigan

Jim Harbaugh said he expects to coach Michigan’s football team next season, posting a statement on the team’s social media accounts following reports of his interest in returning to the NFL.

“I am aware of the rumors and speculation over the past few days,” Harbaugh said in a statement on Thursday. “College and NFL teams have great interest in all our personnel, from players to coaches to staff, and I truly believe that is a testament to the strength of our University of Michigan football program.”


LeBron, Durant to be All-Star captains again?

LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers and Kevin Durant of the Nets might be headed toward yet another All-Star Game rematch.

James is the overall leader so far in All-Star balloting and Durant leads all Eastern Conference players in early voting returns — putting them on track to be All-Star captains for the third consecutive year.

James had 3,168,694 votes entering Thursday, topping the list of Western Conference frontcourt players. Denver’s Nikola Jokic is second (2,237,768) and the Lakers’ Anthony Davis is third (2,063,325).

Durant leads Eastern Conference frontcourt players with 3,118,545 votes. That’s just ahead of Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo (2,998,327) and Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid (2,226,712).


Masters awards exemption to Sargent

The Masters expanded its reach to elite amateurs when it offered a special invitation to NCAA champion Gordon Sargent, the first time in more than 20 years an amateur received such an invitation. Augusta National also awarded a special invitation to Kazuki Higa, who won four times on the Japan Golf Tour.

Sargent is the No. 3 player in the world amateur ranking. As a freshman at Vanderbilt, he won the NCAA individual title last year. — AP