Steve Masiello Loses Deal with USF After Background Check Issues

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 26, 2014

ORLANDO, FL - MARCH 20:  Head coach Steve Masiello of the Manhattan Jaspers shouts to his players against the Louisville Cardinals during the second round of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Amway Center on March 20, 2014 in Orlando, Florida.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Updates from Monday, April 7

Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports has the latest on Steve Masiello:

Brian Hamilton of Sports Illustrated had more on the situation:

Original Text

South Florida is forced to restart its search for a new head basketball coach after the program nixed a deal with Steve Masiello when a discrepancy was found during his background check.

Joey Johnston of The Tampa Tribune reports Masiello had reached an agreement and signed a five-year contract with the school to replace Stan Heath. A final look into his background information led to a new discovery and USF decided to kill the deal:

That background-check information was discovered by Eastman & Beaudine, a Texas-based search firm that was paid $60,000 by USF to find candidates to replace Stan Heath, who was fired on March 14.

Masiello, 36, had agreed to a five-year contract with USF and signed the deal, believed to be worth more than $1 million per season, leaving only final details to be worked out.

South Florida released a statement on the situation on Wednesday afternoon (via Brett McMurphy of ESPN):

During the search for a new men's basketball coach, an agreement in principle was reached by USF and candidate Steve Masiello. The agreement was pending a verification of credentials. Through the verification process it was determined the candidate's credentials could not be substantiated and therefore he did not meet the requirements for the position."

According to Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports, Masiello has been placed on leave by Manhattan while the matter is under review:

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Manhattan released a statement on the situation:

As a result of a background check commissioned by the University of South Florida, Manhattan College has learned there is a question of the validity of head men’s basketball coach Steve Masiello’s undergraduate degree from the University of Kentucky.

Masiello is currently in the process of reviewing his degree status with the University of Kentucky. Manhattan College has placed Masiello on leave while he completes this process with the University.

We ask all parties to respect the privacy of our student athletes until this matter is resolved.

Manhattan College will issue further comment as soon as this expedited process is complete.

Gary Parrish of CBS Sports notes a source close to the situation states the discrepancy was in relation to a claim Masiello made on his resume. He reportedly listed that he graduated from Kentucky, and it turns out that wasn't the case.

A source confirmed to CBSSports.com that the discrepancy stems from Masiello's resume indicating he graduated from Kentucky in 2000 even though he never actually graduated from Kentucky.

Rick Pitino later commented on Masiello, via Jeff Goodman of ESPN:

Brendan Prunty of the Star-Ledger adds the coach who led Manhattan to the NCAA tournament out of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference this season wasn't immediately made aware of the reasoning for the abrupt reversal of course:

Goodman reports that the Manhattan coach wasn't the first option the Bulls talked to:

Making the decision to cancel the deal is a setback for both Masiello and South Florida.

The 36-year-old head coach accumulated a 60-39 record over three years at Manhattan. He was viewed as one of the most promising young coaching prospects in the country, and moving to the American Athletic Conference with USF would have been the next step.

Kevin Brockway of The Gainesville Sun wondered where the Bulls would go after opting not to stick with Masiello:

Masiello also received praise from Louisville coach Rick Pitino, whom he played for and coached under before taking the Manhattan job. The two squared off in the second round, with the Jaspers pushing the reigning champions to the limit in a narrow loss.

The Tampa Tribune report noted Pitino had said his protege was somebody capable of having success at USF, especially given the resources that would have been available:

During the Orlando NCAA games, Pitino said Masiello would be an excellent choice for USF, which he called "a program on the rise" and "a place where you can win because you now have the facilities and the ability to recruit good players."

Now it's unclear what the future holds for Masiello.

As for South Florida, the program is forced to reboot the coaching search, which can be a very tricky task. Going back to other candidates who understand they weren't the first choice likely means some extra convincing will be necessary, unless the department decides to go in a new direction altogether.

All told, it's a unique situation because Masiello is clearly a strong coach with a growing track record and the experience of having worked with Pitino. Yet that isn't enough to overcome discrepancies during a background check.

It will be interesting to see how both parties move forward.


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