Vitale says Steve Masiello's lie a big loss for him and USF's struggling program

adell@bradenton.comMarch 27, 2014 

NCAA Manhattan Louisville Basketball

Manhattan coach Steve Masiello yells at his team during the first 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 — AP

TAMPA -- ESPN college basketball guru Dick Vitale called USF's hiring of Steve Masiello a home run. Unfortunately, the Bulls never got to round the bases.

The school rescinded the $6.2 million deal it gave Masiello to be its men's basketball coach after it learned he lied on his résumé by claiming he is a college graduate.

"He made a major mistake and used poor judgment in not revealing the truth about his academic status," Vitale said. "It shocked me. I thought USF hit a home run when Steve was their first choice. I find it mind-boggling in today's day and age Masiello would jeopardize his career by not fulfilling the requirements for his degree."

Not long after USF nixed the agreement Wednesday morning, his old school, Manhattan College, announced that he has been placed on administrative leave.

Spokespersons at both schools said it is a requirement that their head coaches have at least a college degree.

The 36-year-old falsely claimed on his résumé that he is a 2000 graduate of the University of Kentucky. A Kentucky spokesman said Masiello never received his communications degree from UK as indicated on his official Manhattan bio and his old bio at Louisville.

Masiello was lauded by Manhattan College for his excellence in the classroom, for having multiple players receive academic honors.

USF said it had no choice in pulling out of the deal.

"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." USF said in a statement released Wednesday.

Manhattan College issued a statement later in the day confirming the discrepancy, which it credited to USF. Masiello also worked as an assistant at Manhattan from 2001 through 2005, so the school had two opportunities to verify his academic credentials.

USF paid $60,000 to a search firm (Eastman & Beaudine) to help find the new head coach, and there is criticism that the school should have been told about the false claims before it offered Masiello the job.

It's the same search firm hired by USF for $100,000 plus expenses to help find the Bulls' recently hired new athletic director Mark Harlan.

Masiello worked for six years as an assistant under Rick Pitino at Louisville and was Manhattan College's head coach the past three years.

A Kentucky spokesman said Masiello attended the school from the fall of 1996 through the summer of 2000, but never received his degree.

Pitino, who coached Masiello at Kentucky before taking him on his staff at Louisville, said he was stunned by the news.

A Louisville spokesman said when Masiello was hired he wasn't aware if the school verified college degrees, but that in 2010 it became mandatory.

In his three seasons at Manhattan, Masiello had a 60-39 record and led the team to its first NCAA tournament appearance in a decade last season, won the Metro Athletic Conference and finished 25-8.

Along with Masiello, USF interviewed Mercer head coach Bob Hoffman and is said to be interested in Florida assistant John Pelphrey, who was head coach at Arkansas from 2007-2011.

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