“It is with a sense of pride and a touch of sadness that I learned of Paul’s decision to retire from Columbia,” says Dr. Murphy. “Paul told me that he feels that the time is right to move forward with another exciting chapter in his life. All of us at Columbia are so happy for Paul and wish him the very best in the future – he will truly be missed.”
In a career that spanned 31 years, Fernandes served as Columbia’s head baseball coach for 23 seasons, while also fulfilling the duties as the Ivy League school’s associate athletics director for intercollegiate sports programs. His last day of service to the University will be July 1, 2008.
“I have been so lucky to be at such a tremendous institution of higher education for a major part of my professional career,” notes Fernandes. “Columbia has become a big part of my life – I will truly miss working with the wonderful staff I have had the pleasure to get to know over the years.”
Fernandes won 346 games in two stints (1977-98 and 2004-05) as Columbia’s head baseball coach. His 1987 team set a school record for victories in a season (28) and led the nation in earned run average (2.12). Fifteen of his former student-athletes played professional baseball, including former Major Leaguers Frank Seminara ’89CC and Gene Larkin ’84CC, who drove in the decisive run in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series for the Minnesota Twins.
“Paul is a tremendous leader, mentor, competitor, colleague, advisor and friend,” notes Murphy. “Many of Paul’s former student-athletes are still in touch with him after having graduated – he has been such an important force in our student-athletes’ lives through the years.”
One of the most respected men in college baseball over the last quarter century, Fernandes served four years on the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Baseball Committee. He has been a presence at numerous College World Series regionals as an advisor or tournament director.
“As a lifelong baseball fan, I have had a special opportunity to be actively involved with this wonderful sport throughout my career,” says Fernandes. “I look forward to the opportunity to getting the chance to embrace the game I love as a fan, and visiting Yankees spring training in Florida next March.”
Concurrent with his position as head baseball coach, Fernandes also served as an associate athletics director for intercollegiate sports programs at Columbia. In this capacity, he was responsible for the day-to-day administration of Columbia’s most visible sports programs, including football and men’s basketball. In addition, he was named interim Director of Intercollegiate Athletics and Physical Education upon the retirement of Dr. John Reeves in May 2004 until the arrival of Murphy in November 2004.
“I consider myself extremely fortunate to have worked closely with Paul over the last three and a half years,” says Murphy. “I have tremendous respect for his expertise and accomplishments, as well as his thoughtful, sensitive and engaging personality. I will miss his insight and experience, and his knowledge of Columbia. Paul will be a very difficult – if not impossible – person to replace.”
“I am very excited about where things are headed for the Columbia athletics program,” adds Fernandes. “I look forward to staying in contact with my friends at Columbia and sharing in the Lions’ future success.”
“Paul will always be a member of the Columbia family,” remarks Murphy. “We look forward to welcoming him back whenever he desires.”
Fernandes is a 1967 graduate of SUNY Cortland, where he played baseball and basketball. He holds a master’s degree from C.W. Post, where he began his coaching career, and a C.A.S. in physical education from NYU. He lives with his wife, Kathy, in New Jersey.
Columbia will launch a national search for a new associate athletics director for intercollegiate sports programs shortly.