WASHINGTON -- Alfred 'Butch' Beard, who served as an NBA assistant coach and played 10 years in the league, Wednesday was named men's basketball coach at Howard University.
Beard, 42, who recently completed his second season as an assistant with the New Jersey Nets, is looking forward to his first opportunity as a head coach.
'I expect the Howard University basketball program to be a power,' said Beard. 'The only way that's going to work is I have to go out and recruit student-athletes who not only want to be students first, but who want to play good basketball, hard basketball and winning basketball.'
Beard replaces A.B. Williamson, who was fired in April after an 8-20 season with the Bison. Williamson was the winningest coach in school history with a 15-year record of 240-182.
Beard moved into the picture just over two weeks ago after Howard President Franklyn Jenifer rejected a list of three finalists and began a search of his own. The three finalists were former UCLA Coach Walt Hazzard, former Howard player Tyrone Hart and Ball State assistant Leonard Drake.
'Although there were some extraordinarily qualified people on that list, I wanted to expand that list by asking additional people around the country,' Jenifer said. 'The name that continued to come back was Mr. Beard.'
The Atlanta Hawks first-round draft choice from Louisville in 1969, Beard, a 6-foot-3 guard also played for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Seattle SuperSonics, Golden State Warriors and New York Knicks.
Since his retirement, Beard has been an assistant coach with the Knicks and Nets and a color commentator for the Knicks and Hawks. But with the prospects of a head coaching job in the NBA not good, he decided to move to the collegiate level.
Beard has been offered other unspecified collegiate jobs in the past year, but said his visit to the Howard campus convinced him it would be the ideal place.
'The one thing that hit me was that I felt I belonged here,' Beard said. 'I felt comfortable here, I felt comfortable with the situation. I'll find out whether or not I can get it done.'