Big news around these parts at least.
Big news around these parts at least.
Oh wow. One of the girls I swim with is on the team. Poor girl signed with UMD the night before they cut the program so she went to UVA only now to lose her coach after 1 year.
This has turned into a big story here in Charlottesville. Here's the latest article from the Washington Post:
Personally, I can say it's strange being in the pool without Mark on deck.
As a former UVA swimmer, this is really disappointing and the swimming alumni are up in arms. There's a Facebook page with a lot of commentary from former swimmers who question this "retirement". Here's the link. https://www.facebook.com/FriendsOfVi...ocation=stream
Many of us have written to President Sullivan and the athletic director among others. It's very out of character for Dino. Here's what I wrote to her:
Dear President Sullivan:
I am writing you today out of both concern and deep personal sadness regarding the recent announcement of Mark Bernardino’s “retirement” as the Head Swim Coach at the University of Virginia. As a little background, I was part of Mark’s first recruiting class in 1979, and swam on the team for 3 ½ years as a non-scholarship athlete until a shoulder injury left me unable to continue swimming. During this time, and mostly due to Coach Bernardino’s coaching and motivation, I became not only an ACC swimming finalist and school record holder, but also someone who has tried to always utilize the lessons regarding hard work, persistence, integrity and respect that he taught me to achieve what I have in the 30 years since I graduated.
I live in Greensboro, NC and had the fortune to watch Mark in action at the 2013 Men’s and Women’s ACC Championships this past March. Not only was I able to catch up with Coach Bernardino, but I was also able to watch him as he coached his current swimmers and exhibited the same enthusiasm and motivation for his teams and the individual swimmers as he had over 30 years ago. As I introduced him to my 3 year old daughter as part of his future generation of swimmers, I could only hope that if swimming were in her future, she would find someone who imparted to her the same values that Mark embodied and passed along to so many. Aside from my own parents, Mark provided me with more understanding of what excellence means than any other individual in my life.
I am very concerned that the events surrounding the recent “retirement” flies in the face of everything that Mark Bernardino stands for. The Coach that I know would have prepared a well thought out transition for his current generation of swimmers. He would have ensured continuity of the principals that have made the UVA Swimming program so successful by selecting a worthy successor and working with that individual over time. He would not have abruptly departed the program. I believe that the actions taken not only hurt the future of the UVA Swimming program, but also speak poorly about the UVA Athletics Department and the University in general.
In speaking for myself, as well as countless of other former and current UVA swimmers and athletes, I believe that it would be in the best interest to reconsider the recent decisions that lead to Coach Bernardino’s “retirement” and reinstate him as the Head Swim Coach until such point in time that the decision is his to make … on the terms that have made him and the entire UVA Swimming program so successful.
Thank you for your consideration.
Bruce E. Procton (Commerce ’83
Thanks for the reply Jeff. That is, in fact, one of the things that is most disturbing. Dino, as we know him, has always been very open and ready to speak to anyone ... current or former swimmers. However, he's basically put out a statement that says that he can't talk to anyone and, as such, hasn't been able to respond to anyone trying to reach out to him. I'd ask you to look at the Facebook page to better understand the thoughts of the UVA swim community.
Based on posts in the FB group, there are non-disclosures binding both sides. That means only two possibilities:
1) There was a political or personal conflict that caused someone higher than Bernardino to want him gone. He was paid enough of a settlement for him to agree to "retire".
2) Bernardino was caught doing something that the university does not want to go public. Both sides pinky swear to say nothing if he just retires.
I think #2 is not likely since anything bad enough to oust the coach would also be an NCAA violation of some sort and the university would be required to self report, not keep it secret.
Am I wrong? are there other possible explanations?
Dino had been at the University since 1970, maybe he just had enough. Most colleges would trade all of the success UVA had in swimming over the last 35 years for 1 BCS Bowl bid. UVA was an average team when Dino took the program over. Swimming is not a priority of any college athletic department.
At least, that's what I got out of the comments, I'll admit that I didn't read all of them in detail. I like and respect Bernardino a great deal and hope he wasn't forced out. But I still had a hard time clicking the "like" button on a "friends of UVA swimming" page...
C'mon now Chris ... you can do it! I tell you what ... I'll "friend" Frank Comfort on Facebook in return!
Yesterday I took an informal poll at my house and discovered only 25% are on Facebook, so I am in fact in the majority