Fordham University rescinded hall of fame honors from former head swim coach Joseph Bernal after learning of USA Swimming’s lifetime ban of the coach due to sexual misconduct violations.
Bernal coached Fordham’s swim team from 1966 to 1978 and was inducted into the Fordham University Athletics Hall of Fame in 2009.
USA Swimming issued the lifetime ban on Feb. 23. However, the ban was not reported until Monday by Swimming World Magazine. USA Swimming is the “national governing body for the sport of swimming in the United States,” according to its website.
In a press release to the Fordham University community, the university said that allegations of sexual misconduct occurred after Bernal was inducted into the Hall of Fame.
In addition, no criminal complaints nor convictions were made against Bernal according to the university’s press release.
“To leave in place Mr. Bernal’s honors would send the wrong message to our current and former student athletes,” said the university. “Though Fordham regrets having to strip Mr. Bernal of his athletics honors, its first responsibility is to the physical, emotional, and spiritual well being of the University community. Our thoughts and prayers go out to anyone who may have been the target of sexual misconduct.”
According to USA Swimming’s list of lifetime bans, Bernal violated section 304.3.5 of its code of conduct.
During his time at Fordham, Bernal led the Rams to seven consecutive Metropolitan Collegiate Swimming Championships. Subsequently, he coached at Harvard from 1977 to 1991, where he was a seven-time Ivy League Coach of the Year.
While at Harvard, he coached two Olympic swimmers, David Berkoff and Bobby Hackett. Berkoff and Hackett combined for five medals across three games, including two golds.