USF couldn’t get Rick Pitino, but the school did get one of his disciples to run the men’s basketball program.
Steve Masiello, who guided Manhattan College to its first NCAA Tournament in 10 years this season, has accepted the head basketball job at USF, according to multiple reports.
Reports that Masiello was USF’s top choice surfaced a few days ago with Pitino saying that his former pupil asked him about the job and Pitino called it a “grand slam” for him. The 61-year-old Louisville head coach said if he was 30 years younger it would be an attractive job for him.
The 36-year-old Masiello replaces Stan Heath, who was fired after he completed his seventh season this year following a 12-20 year that ended with nine straight losses.
Masiello was 60-39 in three years at Manhattan and was 25-8 this year with his season ending in a 71-64 in a loss to Louisville.
Before taking the Manhattan job, Masiello was an assistant under Pitino for six years at Louisville. He was a walk-on at Kentucky, where he played under Tubby Smith and then Pitino, who later hired him as a ball boy when he coached the New York Knicks.
Manhattan’s student newspaper reported that Masiello met with his players Tuesday morning and told him he was leaving for USF. There have been conflicting reports regarding his salary ranging from $1 million to $2.6 million a season for five years.
Masiello was considered a “rock star” among college assistant coaches and then young head coaches, particularly with how he turned around Manhattan program that won six games before his arrival and the tutoring he received under Pitino, who has a reputation of turning out successful assistant coaches.
If anything, USF can expect the most well dressed coach in the American Athletic Conference, according to Pitino. The Louisville coach, who has gained notoriety for his expensive tailored suits, said Masiello dresses even better wearing what he called “ridiculous suits.”
Pitino said the USF is a lot more attractive now because the school is no longer in the old Big East and mentioned its upgraded facilities.
The Equity in Athletics Data reported that Manhattan spent $1.7 million in men’s’ basketball in 2012-13 compared to $4.4 million by USF.
Manhattan loses three key seniors. But Masiello inherits Chris Perry and John Egbunu, rated among the top freshmen in the AAC last season.