Mark Bernardino
Courtesy of: University of Virginia
COLUMBIA, South Carolina, May 16. IN a move that could send shockwaves throughout the Southeastern Conference, former Virginia head coach Mark Bernardino will be named the Associate Head Coach at South Carolina, according to a source close to the program.

That's a big coup for South Carolina head coach McGee Moody as he adds a coach with a ton of experience at the top of the sport. Bernardino was the head coach of the Virginia Cavaliers for 35 years before parting ways with the school after the 2013 season. During that time period, he won 27 ACC championships with 16 men's and 11 women's titles.

He also coached several swimmers to the Olympic Games with Melanie Valerio, Ed Moses, Lauren Perdue and Matt McLean each going on to represent the United States. Bernardino also worked with the late Fran Crippen, who was a multiple All-American in distance vents for the Cavaliers.


Bernardino and Virginia initially stated that the parting was a retirement, but later reporting found that the two signed a "binding two-year non-disparagement clause," gagging both sides from revealing any information about the situation.

Aside from securing one of the better coaching minds currently on the coaching market, what makes this even better for USC is that Bernardino will still be cutting a check from the Virginia Cavaliers for another year. As part of the separation agreement, Virginia agreed to pay Bernardino his $104,000 annual salary for two years "even if he [took] a new job elsewhere."

So, Bernardino isn't jumping back into coaching just for a paycheck, as he's already guaranteed another $104,000 from Virginia while also still coaching for South Carolina. According to our source, Bernardino really just wants to coach again at the collegiate level.

A motivated Bernardino on deck, and on the road recruiting, should be a huge boon for the Gamecock program that is looking for a spark to make up some ground in an always-competitive Southeastern Conference. Last year, the men finished 10th with the women taking 11th at SECs.

"South Carolina is very fortunate to have picked someone who is in my mind, one of the greatest middle distance coaches of all time," McLean told Swimming World shortly after news broke. "He will be an incredible asset to the team and university community. His strength as a coach and leader are only equaled by the values he helps to instill in his athletes. He has always created great swimmers and great people. I look forward to seeing the success that is sure to come from this program in the near future."