The man who has received much of the credit for planning South Florida baseball power Archbishop McCarthy’s rise to national prominence lashed out at reports that he was fired, insisting that he departed on his own terms because he was an unpaid volunteer and citing a lack of support by school officials and the Archdiocese of Miami.
In a statement sent to USA TODAY High School Sports and a number of South Florida news outlets on Wednesday night, former Archbishop McCarthy Director of Baseball Operations Alex Fernandez noted: “This is a very unfortunate ending to a great era for Archbishop McCarthy and the Archdiocese after having led the baseball program to unprecedented heights on and off the field with our athletes, alumni, volunteers and coaches.”
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported on Tuesday that the coaching staff had been fired. In his statement, Fernandez said that in a July 27 meeting, the coaching staff was told that their contracts were not being renewed by the Archdiocese. Fernandez noted that applied to head coach Rick Bielski and his paid assistants.
The dismissal of the Mavericks program leaders came after a probe by the state association found the team had used three ineligible players during the 2017 season. The team was forced to forfeit all 22 of its regular season games but retained the state title because it was won without any of the ineligible players competing in a postseason game.
McCarthy has won six state titles in seven seasons. Archbishop McCarthy finished No. 2 last spring in the final USA TODAY High School Sports Super 25 rankings.
Fernandez said that neither he, Bielski nor any members of the McCarthy staff were aware of alleged impermissable benefits and subsequent eligibility issues. He said the situation was mischaracterized as a “cheating scandal.”
Here is how Fernandez, a former pitcher for the Marlins, directly addressed the allegations of cheating in his statement:
None of the members of our coaching staff nor myself were mentioned or listed in the FHSAA report and none of us were aware of potential impermissible benefit issues.