Steve Masiello Keeps Manhattan Job Despite Background-Check Issues

Tim Keeney@@t_keenContributor IApril 7, 2014

Manhattan coach Steve Masiello yells at his team during the sec on half against Louisville, in a second-round game in the NCAA college basketball tournament Thursday, March 20, 2014, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Phelan M. Ebenhack

Manhattan College will allow men's head basketball coach Steve Masiello to return to his position once he completes his undergraduate degree at the University of Kentucky. 

According to the school's official statement, via GoJaspers.com, the 36-year-old Masiello will be on unpaid leave, while Matt Grady will serve as interim head coach in the meantime.    

Masiello, seen as a rising star on the collegiate level, accepted a job with South Florida in late March, but a background check revealed he had not graduated from Kentucky, as his resume stated. 

Manhattan president Brennan O'Donnell further explained the situation and gave the school's reasoning for retaining Masiello:

After an extensive review of the situation and extenuating circumstances, we determined that Mr. Masiello executed poor judgment but did not intentionally misrepresent himself in applying to the College.  After participating in graduation ceremonies at the University of Kentucky, he enrolled in summer courses with the intention of completing his degree, but never followed through to make sure that the degree was awarded. We appreciate the counsel of all involved in assessing this complex situation.  Our policy was always that the coach must have at least a four-year undergraduate degree.

CBS Sports' Gregg Doyel applauded the move by Manhattan:

In addition to compassion, it just makes sense. 

After serving as an assistant under Rick Pitino at Louisville (and playing for him at Kentucky), Masiello took over for Manhattan prior to the 2011-12 season. He led the Jaspers to a 21-13 record in his first season as a head coach and took them to the second round of this year's NCAA tournament before nearly upsetting Pitino and the Cardinals. 

As was evidenced by South Florida going after him, he is one of the best young coaches in America, and that's not going to change whether he has taken a few summer courses or not. 

Of course, you want a head coach to show honesty and lead a good example, but it sounds as though Masiello has learned his lesson:

I am extremely grateful and humbled by the opportunity to continue as the head men’s basketball coach at Manhattan College. I made a mistake that could have cost me my job at an institution I love.  Details matter.  Manhattan College has shown me a great deal of compassion and trust during this process, and I will do everything in my power to uphold that trust.  I understand that I am very fortunate to have the chance to remain here at Manhattan.

For now, I guess you could call him a student-athlete. But soon, Masiello will be back leading Manhattan to what could be the school's first set of back-to-back tournament appearances in over a decade. 

Masiello made a costly mistake, but Manhattan is doing well in returning him to school and giving him a second chance. It's a move that will benefit the Jaspers going forward as the team looks to build on its successful campaign and go even further in the NCAA tournament next year.