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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7 years ago

From remember the Titans:

Coach Yoast: I think this is a very good time for prayer and reflection…
Bertier: Coach, I’m hurt. I’m not dead.

7 years ago

something is rotten in the state of Denmark…

Reply to  beerme
7 years ago

Lookin’ at you DeSantis!

Lost Translation
7 years ago

Never swam at UVA but have a lot of respect for the program but do people really want to dig in to this and find out the truth? It is weird timing but the truth could be more dangerous here folks.

Reply to  Lost Translation
7 years ago


Reply to  Lost Translation
7 years ago

I agree don’t ask questions that you don’t really want the answer to.

Wanna know
Reply to  Legacy
7 years ago

I think prospective student athletes probably need to know what the heck is going on there in order to make an informed decision about UVA as a viable or not viable choice. But perhaps the burden is on the PSA to find out on their own rather than to learn it in a public forum.

Reply to  Lost Translation
7 years ago

I have no inside information on this topic and am in no way affiliated with the University of Virginia swim program, so this is just speculation. My guess is that there is something health related. The brief statement from the athletic department seemed to have a respectful tone, so I would not guess that there was any wrong doing.

Reply to  Dan
7 years ago

This is what I too thought when this first came up, however, if it were for personal reasons, then he would easily be able to explain his situation to key members to dissolve the group. Instead he has made no comment on the situation which gives it the smell of a non-disclosure contract. Also the fact that he retired on possibly the worst day in the year, July 1st points away from that. What personal reasons could he have that are so pressing yet unforeseeable that he couldn’t do so a month earlier or later? The timely leave of two other coaches as well also raises questions beyond Bernardino either about the university or the athletic department.

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Lost Translation
7 years ago

This is either the scariest or funniest comment of all time. Completely depends on how sarcastic it is.

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Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of 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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