After reports began to leak that the University of South Florida (USF) was ready to announce Manhattan’s Steve Masiello as their new head coach, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that USF had found their new leader. Now, a few days before Masiello was expected to sign a new contract worth $1 million annually for 5 years, Masiello has been left in limbo after a discrepancy on his resume was discovered. While there has been no official word about why talks have broken off between Masiello and USF, most reports suggest that the issue is over whether or not the former University of Kentucky student and basketball player actually graduated from the school.
Apparently going as far as informing his team that he would be departing for a new locale, Masiello has now been placed on leave by Manhattan. His return to the school seems unlikely, which means that his best hope to proceed in his coaching career is a proper explanation of why he was rejected by South Florida. Resume issues aside, Masiello was a hot name after taking a tiny program in Manhattan to a near defeat of Louisville. His Manhattan Jaspers won 60 games in three seasons, more games than they had won in their previous five seasons combined.
Much has been made about Masiello’s connection to Louisville head coach Rick Pitino. Masiello, who adopted many attributes of Pitino’s press defense for his own squads, played for Pitino at Kentucky, was his assistant at Louisville, and was even his ball boy when Pitino coached the New York Knicks. Should he be unable to find a head coaching gig, he may be forced to return to assistant coaching once more. Depending on what exactly the discrepancy is, however, Masiello may be lucky enough to work his way out of the limbo he is stuck in at the moment.
There also remains the possibility that he returns to Manhattan and picks up where he left off. He has built a successful program, and he is underpaid relative to the results he has gotten. Manhattan has not yet fired their head coach, nor has Masiello officially quit or resigned. If the investigation into his background reveals something innocuous, like perhaps Masiello achieved all of the required credits but never formally graduated, the door could be opened for a return. At the moment that is still a big question mark. There would also be other issues to deal with, such as whether or not Masiello’s players will trust a coach who may be looking to jump ship again next season, and whether or not Masiello would be willing to return to a smaller salary and program when his name was nearly on a $5 million contract with an American Athletic Conference school.
For now, Steve Masiello’s resume discrepancy leaves him stuck in limbo. South Florida is off the table, and are moving on. His best hope to be a head coach in 2014-2015 is with Manhattan, back with the team he took to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in over a decade. Should that not work out, Masiello could be back to working under someone else, or possibly out of basketball for the entire year.
Commentary by Brian Moore