Mark Bernardino has devoted his career to building a program founded on family, loyalty, integrity, and honor. Following those traits, we continue to support the current and future University of Virginia Swimming and Diving team without reservation. We will support Coach Busch in his efforts to deliver 100% commitment to the ideals that Mark Bernardino embodies – ideals that have always distinguished the University of Virginia Swimming and Diving teams. We hope that Coach Busch can build upon the foundation that Mark has laid.
We remain concerned about the process that led to this transition and will continue to voice our concerns with University leadership. We still request an audience with the president to ensure that our concerns are heard at the highest level. However, our primary objectives moving forward are supporting the team in their continued pursuit of academic and athletic greatness, and ensuring that the University honor Mark Bernardino and his legacy in a manner commensurate with his achievements, devotion, and character.
The Virginia Swimming and Diving Family
The Virginia swimming and diving story that has unfolded the last few days has taken yet another turn.
The University announced Wednesday that it has hired Augie Busch to be the new head coach of the swimming and diving team, succeeding Mark Bernardino, who's abrupt retirement after 35 years has raised more questions than answers.
Busch is taking over at Virginia after serving the last two seasons as head coach of the University of Houston women's swim team.
UVa Athletic Director Craig Littlepage released a statement Wednesday saying, “After doing the research to find a great fit and the type of coach best positioned to take over the Virginia swimming and diving program, there is no question in my mind that Augie Busch is someone who is uniquely qualified."
“His background with top-ranked college programs, conference and NCAA champions and Olympic-level swimmers have all prepared him to build on our programs' success at Virginia.”
Prior to his time at Houston, Busch spent eight seasons as an assistant at Arizona, where he helped lead both the Wildcat men and women to the 2008 NCAA Championship.
“It is with tremendous excitement and enthusiasm that I accept the head coaching position for this prestigious program,” Busch said. “I am so grateful to Mr. Littlepage and his staff for believing I’m the person to lead these awesome teams. Mark Bernardino did an amazing job lifting UVa Swimming to the highest level and I have the utmost respect for him and what he has accomplished. It is my goal to build upon what he has created and take the program to even greater heights. Over time I’m confident we will be able to accomplish this."
Busch will have some large shoes to fill.
Bernardino guided the Cavaliers to 27 ACC championships during his career and was the longest tenured coach at Virginia prior to his retirement.
That retirement led many Cavalier swim and dive alumni to question Bernardino's motive for stepping down. The former coach has been uncharacteristically silent with his former pupils, some of whom created a Facebook page and wrote a letter to President Teresa Sullivan asking for a review into the issue and a moratorium on finding a new head coach.