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.