LUBBOCK, Texas – Texas Tech head coach Chris Beard has been named a semifinalists for the 2019 Werner Ladder Naismith Coach of the Year Award as announced by the Atlanta Tipoff Club on Monday.

Beard has led the Red Raiders to a 26-5 overall record this season and to the program's first-ever Big 12 Conference regular-season championship after going 14-4 in conference play. Tech ended the regular season on a nine-game winning streak going into this week's Phillips 66 Big 12 Conference Championship in Kansas City where the Red Raiders will play the Oklahoma-West Virginia winner at 6 p.m. on Thursday in a quarterfinal matchup at the Sprint Center.

Beard, who was named the Big 12 Conference Coach of the Year for the second straight season on Sunday, is now 71-29 in his three seasons leading the Red Raiders. He led the program to its first NCAA Elite Eight last season before losing five seniors to graduation and freshman Zhaire Smith to the NBA Draft. Tech came into this season unranked, but comes into the postseason having been ranked in 15 straight polls after opening the season with a 15-1 record and then running off the best conference record in program history. The 14 Big 12 wins are the most by a Texas Tech team and the nine-game winning streak also set a new program record.

The Naismith Coach of the Year Award includes 11 candidates due to ties in the voting process. Seven coaches are seeking their first such honor, including Beard, Rick Barnes (Tennessee), Tom Izzo (Michigan State), Nate Oats (Buffalo), Matt Painter (Purdue), Kelvin Sampson (Houston) and Mike Young (Wofford). The other four candidates are former Werner Ladder Naismith Coach of the Year award winners with three coaches who have won at different colleges than where they currently coach.

Virginia Head Coach Tony Bennett, who won the award in 2007 at Washington State and in 2018 at Virginia, would be the first back-to-back winner in the history of the men's award. While Kentucky head coach John Calipari also looks to make history with what could be his fourth honor, following wins in 1996 at Massachusetts, in 2008 at Memphis and in 2015, where he joined Tubby Smith (2003) and won the second men's award coaching for Kentucky. Should Roy Williams win, he would join North Carolina winners Dean Smith (1993) and Bill Guthridge (1998) and win his second trophy since 1997 when he won at Kansas. Mark Few is also hoping to win his second Werner Ladder Naismith Coach of the Year award at Gonzaga after previously winning in 2017.

"With the regular season complete, the competition for Werner Ladder Naismith Trophy Coach of the Year will pick up as tournament play begins," said Eric Oberman, executive director of the Atlanta Tipoff Club. "We're looking forward to watching these candidates lead and push their teams to excel through post season."

Beard has been leading programs to record-breaking seasons since 1999 as a head coach with experiences at Fort Scott Community College, Seminole State, the South Carolina Warriors (ABA), McMurry University, Angelo State and Little Rock before returning to Lubbock to take of the Texas Tech program in teh 2016-17 season. Beard is currently 101-34 at the NCAA Division I level and has earned conference coach of the year honors in three of four seasons after winning the Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year honor at Little Rock where he was 30-5 before taking Big 12 Co-Coach of the Year honors last year. 

The four finalists for the Werner Ladder Naismith Trophy for Men's College Coach of the Year will be announced on March 20. Fans will be able to support their favorite coach by visiting between March 22-April 3, to cast their ballot, and the fan vote will account for five percent of the overall final vote. Then, on April 7, 2019, the 2019 Werner Ladder Naismith Trophy for Men's College Coach of the Year will be awarded at the Naismith Awards Brunch presented by Mortenson, during the Final Four in Minneapolis.

"The Werner Ladder Naismith Coach of the Year semifinalists have each excelled in coaching their teams throughout the regular season," said Stacy Gardella, vice president of brand marketing at WernerCo. "We look forward to watching these coaches inspire their teams and wish them luck as they approach the tournament."