Masiello in limbo with a degree he might not have

Courtesy of Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Courtesy of Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Steve Masiello had the exposure he needed to show his face, name and coaching skills in the 2014 NCAA basketball tournament when the team he was coaching, the Manhattan College Jaspers, went up against his mentor and former college coach Rick Pitino and the reigning champion Louisville Cardinals.  His Jaspers played well and kept it close until the Cardinals Luke Hancock hit two huge three-pointers in the final 1:19 to help Louisville fend off a determined Manhattan, 71-64 in the NCAA tournament Thursday night.  In his third season as coach, the 36-year old Masiello took Manhattan College to its first NCAA tournament berth in 10 years.

Like all small college coaches who do well in any tournament, they are looking to move up in the college sports world to next bigger and better school to have more exposure, resources and  money.  It appeared that Masiello made the most of his opportunity when the University of South Florida offered their coaching vacancy to him and was willing to grant him a five-year contract worth more than $1 million per season.

Masiello agreed to the deal but at the last minute USF’s withdrew the offer when they discovered a “previously undetected discrepancy in his background check”, according to The Tampa Tribune.

It appears the former Kentucky University walk-on and Louisville assistant reportedly failed to graduate from the University of Kentucky. Masiello attended and played for Kentucky under Rick Pitino from 1996-2000, but never graduated. The former Manhattan head coach was caught between a rock and a hard place.  Is it harsh to say he was caught up in a lie?  You would be hard pressed to say that you don’t remember your college graduation or graduating in general.  This reminds me of the same situation in 2001 when George O’Leary resigned as Notre Dame football coach five days after being hired, admitting he lied about his academic and athletic background.  O’Leary claimed to have a master’s degree in education and to have played college football for three years, but checks into his background showed it wasn’t true.

If there’s a bright side to this position Masiello put himself in is that his last coaching job might not be his last.  Manhattan has placed the coach on leave so there’s still a chance for him to go back.

“Masiello is currently in the process of reviewing his degree status with the University of Kentucky,” the school said in a statement on Wednesday. “Manhattan College has placed Masiello on leave while he completes this process with the University.”

No official word yet on how long this process is expected to take, or what it will accomplish, but he cannot use the “dog ate my degree” excuse…..can he?

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