Virginia AD: “We Should Use [This Time] To Reflect on [Bernardino’s] Outstanding Coaching Career”

After calls from several alumni of the University of Virginia swim teams, as well as the general public, for an explanation on the retirement of 35-year head coach Mark Bernardino, Virginia Director of Athletics Craig Littlepage wanted the focus on Bernardino’s accomplishments.

“I want this time to be about Mark Bernardino and we should use it to reflect on his outstanding coaching career and his contributions to Virginia athletics and the University of Virginia,” Littlepage said.  He added that he would have no further comment until a new head coach for the programs had been hired.

Littlepage did not comment specifically on the public calls for “clarity,” including from a group that started a Facebook page with over 1,100 members as of Monday morning, nor on reasons for Bernardino’s sudden retirement.

Those alumni and colleagues of Bernardino’s who we’ve spoken to find the timing of the decision to be strange coming off of 6-consecutive ACC Championships for both the men’s and women’s teams, and with no advanced notice (typically, a large portion of the community knows of these things before they are officially announced). We have been unable to track down Bernardino for comment, and further haven’t been able to find anyone who has heard from him since the July 1st announcement.

Bernardino has had a swimmer at every Olympic Games since 1996, including a peak of 5 in London in 2012. He has received numerous awards for his service, including Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award and induction into the University of Virginia Hall of Fame.

 

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Mark The Shark Seidman
9 years ago

Wow, Frank Comfort? I highly doubt that. UVa would never accept a Tar Heel as their head coach. Comfort is a legend though. He introduced some innovative training techniques in Chapel Hill. And he’d have a shorter drive to Eagles Mere on the weekends.

church goer
9 years ago

And the pope should be held accountable for the problems in the catholic church too.

Steve Nolan
Reply to  church goer
9 years ago

Actually, yeah. The two popes prior to the current one knew basically everything that was going on and had a lot to do with covering it all up.

Coach 11
9 years ago

So….I am betting there will be no reinstatement. Who’s going to apply for and get the next head UVA job?

CASWIMMER
9 years ago

new to website and saw this. similar happened in large program where coach was “esteemed” and had his own issues and allowed the “assistant coach” to carry out his “wishes” so he, as head coach would appear clean. Saw it backfire before when asst. coach rolled on him. (maybe why asst coach was able to move on to new job?) Just thought i’d toss it out there as it hasn’t been and I don’t know either of the parties being mentioned.

myfaceisscrunched
9 years ago

“It is asinine to think that a Head Coach should be held responsible for the actions of assistants – big girls and big boys. Parents, should we hold you accountable when your 19 year old goes to college and gets an underage? Do you want share jail time for their DUI arrest? And remember, this wasn’t even a legal wrongdoing that happened under Mark’s watch!”

Parents are not held to legally binding contractual obligations to be the figurehead for their children’s actions or beliefs. While maybe they should be, parents are not strictly the boss of their children, especially once they are out of the parent’s house in a semi-permanent way.

Bernadino was Chip’s boss. He was the end-all, be-all,… Read more »

DutchWomen
Reply to  myfaceisscrunched
9 years ago

Again it is unrealistic that everyone within your organization, the one which you lead, is going to do the right thing, all the time. If you know about it and do not correct it, sure, removal of you from office might be the next step. If you do not know about it, aside from a poor judgement in hiring, how can anyone blame you for the wrongdoings of other, supposedly responsible adults? You say “the buck stops here” and I say…just another example of American culture refusing to take responsibility for their own actions. It’s not Chip’s fault…blame Mark!! After all, he is the head coach, and responsible for the decisions of all his assistants, all the time, in their… Read more »

NCAA rules
Reply to  DutchWomen
9 years ago

DUTCHWOMEN – The head coach taking all the blame for the assistant might not seem logical to you (or anyone), but it’s how an NCAA DI athletic department functions. The assistant coaches are informed of this, and the head coach knows about it too. I’m not sure how familiar you are with the NCAA, but just thought you would like to know.

DutchWomen
Reply to  NCAA rules
9 years ago

You’re talking about recruiting violations and so forth…No NCAA rules were broken at UVA..this was a situation where Chip said some things he shouldn’t have…now tell me logically how that falls back on Mark? “Lack of institutional control” ?? Adults make their own decisions and should answer to said decisions. Passing the blame on to the next guy is a serious character flaw, whether it be in your personal or professional life, NCAA or otherwise.

NCAA RULES
Reply to  DutchWomen
9 years ago

I’m not disagreeing, I think that adults should answer for their own mistakes. But when it comes down to it, university departments function in a unique way. It doesn’t have to just be recruiting violations – a lot ends up on the shoulders of a head coach, even if you (or I) don’t think it belongs there.

Marty Matters
9 years ago

The truth is leaking out, little by little. My guess is that it revolves around Asst. Coach Chip Kline, who has been something of a Neanderthal for some time. Shortly after the conclusion of this last season, the Athletic Dept, and very quickly thereafter the Administration became aware of some issues involving Kline. My sense is the issues fall more on the “Non-PC” end of the continuum and while serious, were not criminal or even overly egregious. He was gone like a thief in the night – office cleaned out – no word from anyone as to his departure. The Coach had his camps lined up for June on campus, and continued to recruit and act completely as if he… Read more »

PsychoDad
Reply to  Marty Matters
9 years ago

But, but… the buck stopped with coach Mark. There is no such thing as “I did not know what my assistant was doing for 12 years.” That is a lie first of all. He had to know and if he knew and did not stop he had to go. Even if it is remotely possible he did not know – he deserves to be fired. Mot knowing for 12 years, come on!? He was a head coach and well paid and famous because of his position, you cannot hide and play ignorance card then when things go wrong.

DutchWomen
Reply to  PsychoDad
9 years ago

Boy, the peanut gallery is alive and well today. A simple google search reveals that Chip was on staff for 8 years. The sarcasm from Marty’s post was apparently lost through the smoke and mirrors.

It is asinine to think that a Head Coach should be held responsible for the actions of assistants – big girls and big boys. Parents, should we hold you accountable when your 19 year old goes to college and gets an underage? Do you want share jail time for their DUI arrest? And remember, this wasn’t even a legal wrongdoing that happened under Mark’s watch!

Must ALL the drama and office politics in EVERY program in the country be aired for all to… Read more »

Barbotus
Reply to  DutchWomen
9 years ago

Flawed analogy. Perhaps a better one: You’re a manager at a company and have knowledge that a subordinate is stealing. You’re not responsible for the theft, but you for sure are responsible if you don’t report what you know to higher management/ownership.

That said, this is starting to feel more like Littlepage not wanting to go the way of Tim Pernetti. A swift retirement for Bernardino and UVA moves on versus ending up with every armchair critic in the country questioning every single move that the department and university made.

Either way, whatever happened will become public knowledge. I’m guessing by the end of this week.

Marty Matters
Reply to  DutchWomen
9 years ago

Dutch – I actually agree with you 100% I was not trying to be sarcastic. Far from indicting Coach Bernardino, I think he has been victimized by an Athletic Department that has taken PC to ridiculous heights. I think that they (CL) hate “old school” coaches and coaching methods – despise it and want to be rid of it. I think they also hate the power and prestige this particular old school coach had amassed. I do happen to think that Kline was (is) a POS, and I don’t care if he ever coaches again. There used to be a wall that allowed a CEO or leader the leeway to have a “bad cop” next to him – the Vice… Read more »

duckduckgoose
Reply to  Marty Matters
9 years ago

If Dino didn’t want a letter writing campaign, online petition, etc…he could squash it immediately without breaching any non-disclosure severance agreement. That clearly hasn’t happened yet, so at the very least he’s given tacit agreement. Nobody’s going to skate on this and UVa, Littlepage, Dino, and Kline all will receive at least collateral damage.

Not again
9 years ago

Sigh, UVA fans always making a huge stink about everything. Will never just accept that they are a subpar athletic department. Should get back to the studying and drinking their white wine.

Just me
Reply to  Not again
9 years ago

If you had studied a little more, maybe you’d know the meaning of “subpar.” The revenue sports might not be firing on all cylinders at the moment, but this athletic department is as deep and successful as almost any in the country….

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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