Volleyball coach let go ahead of RSC tournament

Photo by Sam Robinson
Former Head Coach, Mike Bruno, talks to his team about a new strategy during a timeout against WV Wesleyan last year. Bruno was fired on Friday.

Written By Josh Croup, Co-Sports Editor

Mike Bruno was fired Friday as the head volleyball coach, the Athletic Department announced. Officials declined to comment on specifics of the decision and players approached by the Globe declined to comment on the details of what led up to the firing.

Bruno has coached at Point Park since 2005 and is the all-time winningest coach in program history. He was named River States Conference Coach of the Year in 2016.

Bridget Bielich, who served as the assistant coach under Bruno for the last three years, is the interim head coach and will lead the team at the conference tournament this weekend. Bielich did not return a request for comment.

The Athletic Department released the following statement:

“Point Park University volleyball head coach Mike Bruno has been relieved of his duties at the school. He was the head coach of the Pioneers the last 13 years.

As a matter of established policy, Point Park University will not comment further on this personnel matter.”

Bruno’s final game was last Tuesday at home for senior night against Carlow. Point Park won the match 3-0. Bruno declined to comment on the details of his release, but spoke to the Globe about his time as the head of the Point Park volleyball program.

“I want to move forward,” Bruno said in a phone interview Monday. “I have a lot to offer and it won’t be at Point Park anymore. I’m looking forward to the next chapter in my life.”

His career at Point Park included a 304-195 record and four trips to the national tournament in the last six seasons.

“Dan Swalga has been a really great man to work for,” Bruno said. “I enjoyed growing the team under his direction. I’m proud of the body of work that we’ve put into it over the years.”

Bruno plans to continue his career in the health and fitness field while also promoting charity work done by Team Cassie and the Pittsburgh Foundation. Team Cassie was founded 10 years ago to help enrich the lives of the special needs community and is named after his youngest daughter.

“I’m pretty confident that my next career move will also be a platform to continue promoting awareness, acceptance and inclusion and fundraising,” Bruno said.

He said he will not pursue other coaching opportunities at this time.

Entering this season, only Jeroen Walstra had a longer active head coaching tenure than Bruno at the university, leading the women’s soccer team from 2003-09 and the men’s team from 2009 until the present.

This marks the third time in the last year that Point Park has made a coaching change. The men’s basketball team named Gabe Bubon the new head coach officially during the summer after he served in the interim last season.

He left his post as the men’s and women’s golf coach, opening the door for Graham Hoffman to assume the role as head coach for both teams.

Bruno is turning his attention to his family and his career after coaching.

“I don’t want to focus on the last week of my career; I want to focus on the whole body of work,” Bruno said. “I will value my time and look back on my days at Point Park and smile. I’ve worked with so many great coaches who I will miss dearly. I’ve developed some great friendships over the years. I wish them all the best, and I wish the athletic department continued success.”

Additional reporting contributed by co-sports editor Dara Collins.