Posted: 5:56 pm Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

Steve Masiello: From hot item to cautionary tale 

By Mark Bradley

Steve Masiello, shown coaching Manhattan against Louisville. (Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP)

Steve Masiello, shown coaching Manhattan against Louisville. (Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP)

Twenty-four hours ago, Steve Masiello had a job and was poised to take a better one. At the moment he has neither, having seen an offer from South Florida rescinded and having been placed on leave by Manhattan. All of this because he didn’t graduate from the University of Kentucky. (Full disclosure: I’m a UK grad.)

The immediate point of reference is George O’Leary, who after leaving Georgia Tech for Notre Dame in December 2001 was found to have embellished his resume. But O’Leary never claimed to be a college grad when he wasn’t; his sin was in saying he’d played football at New Hampshire and saying he’d completed his master’s degree at Stony Brook when he hadn’t done either.

O’Leary was, however, a college grad. Masiello isn’t. In college coaching, having that diploma is a big deal. (O’Leary now coaches Central Florida, not to be confused with South Florida.) It’s so big a deal that Manhattan, in announcing Masiello had been placed on leave, offered no support for the coach that only yesterday it was desperate to keep.

From the statement: “Masiello is currently in the process of reviewing his degree status with the University of Kentucky. Manhattan College has placed Masiello on leave while he completes this process with the university.”

If it’s determined that Masiello didn’t graduate from Kentucky — and various UK spokespeople have told various outlets he didn’t — there seems no way Manhattan can keep him, which would put an abrupt halt to a career that only yesterday was hurtling along the ol’ fast track. Last week coached Manhattan to a near-upset of Louisville, which is the reigning NCAA champ and is coached by Rick Pitino, who when coaching the Knicks had made Masiello a ball boy and who brought him to Lexington as a walk-on. Watching that NCAA tournament game, you knew Masiello would soon be bound for bigger and better, and so he was. Until he wasn’t.

You know the hustling little guy who gets into the game at the end of blowouts and is implored by the home crowd to “Shoooot”? That was Masiello as a Wildcat. He’d gone on to work as an assistant under Shawn Finney, who’d been on Tubby Smith’s Kentucky staff after Pitino left to coach the Celtics, at Tulane, and then at Manhattan and then for five years under Pitino at Louisville. Then Masiello became Manhattan’s head coach in 2011 and, bang on cue, made the Jaspers winners.

At 36 and carrying the Pitino imprimatur, Masiello had become a Hot Item. Today he’s all but toxic, at least in the college game. At the moment he was to take a giant step upward, a lie more than a decade old yanked him down. It’s sad, yes, but it’s more stupid than sad.

O’Leary was front-page news across the country in December 2001. Was Masiello, then a first-year assistant at Manhattan, not reading the papers? Couldn’t he have taken steps to finish his degree or, failing that, change his resume? He got caught in a lie, but it was a lie that could have been fixed. It will take a good long while to fix his career now.

19 comments
TideDawg
TideDawg

The Penn State faithful want everyone to forgive Paterno for looking the other way while innocent kids were being molested by his assistant. The Florida Int. faithful fired a coach for lying on a resume. Sounds like equal justice to me.

By the way, how did the GT watchdogs overlook O'Leary's resume error or did he only lie about it to ND?


I thought the only degree a coach needed to coach a sport was a degree in the sport he coaches. Does that make sense? No! OK! Disregard!!

JaySly
JaySly

pitino will hire him for a couple of years to rebuild his rep, he can get some mickey mouse degree at lville and then get a 7 figure job somewhere

foxdog
foxdog

So he has played or worked for 17 years consecutive years at universities and hasn't completed his Batchelors Degree. That is just not "giving a damn" Or in the term of the south, "sorriness". He has no legitimate reason for not having done it. None. He is now reaping the fruits of that lack of effort.

gfw
gfw

I imagine that if a person's been getting away with a lie for a long time, he might become a little insensitive to the risk he is running.  And he was in a tight spot, after all:  you ask why he didn't take steps to finish his degree...but how could he do this without alerting anyone that he didn't have one (and had thus almost certainly had lied to the people at Manhattan)?

DawginLex
DawginLex

Tim Kerlishaw(sp) made the mistake of saying "How can you tell the difference between someone who graduated from Kentucky and someone who didn't?"


Within minutes, he was bombarded. A few minutes later, his Wikipedia page was changed by UK fans


He should know better than messing with the Big Blue Nation


Those people are crazy

Mercury123
Mercury123

Why do we care if he graduated? I get the "ethics" argument but in light of the Petrino, Sandusky and other cheaters this is a weak argument. Judge the man by his track record. He wins. He gets the job done. That is what matters.

Sports are a funny field. Some peope work all their life to be a broadcaster. But if you played the sport, you skip the traditional line because of your résumé. It doesn't matter if you graduated or worked on tv. All that matters is that you played the game. Why is coaching different?

peanutgallery
peanutgallery

If colleges don't want to hire him because he embellished/lied on his resume fine. 

If it's because he is lacking a college degree then they are full of it considering they prostitute themselves over one-and-done college basketball players who make no pretense of getting a college degree.


Does anyone really believe that a paper degree is a prerequisite in recruiting and coaching college basketball players?

JackClemens
JackClemens

He's headed to the NBA and probably better off for it.

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

Nice column Mark - I think the key is your last paragraph. The problem isn't Masiello not having a degree - it's lying about it on his resume.  Masiello should have taken care of this a long time ago.

You can be a great coach without having a college degree - Sir Alex signed a pro contract at 18 and it didn't hold him back.

JaySly
JaySly

he need to call oleary for advice on how to get a job after a resume lie

JeffreyEav
JeffreyEav

Second time in a week. I believe I am qualified to give myself kudos. Also, I am an overachiever that never graduated college. I never say that I did, and would never put it on a resume but I don't correct everybody that thinks I did.

Jasper2017
Jasper2017

@Mercury123  because it sets and example for the student-atheltes. If their coach didn't graduate many may not finish out after their season ends. It is a rule you must have bachelors degree to coach in D1.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@PaulinNH  

Well, in the case of these two schools--Manhattan and South Fla--the problem IS in not having a degree, because both require that their head basketball coaches have a college degree. So if this report is true, then he's not qualified to coach at either school.

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

@DawgNole

To me the issue isn't whether you need a degree to coach college basketball - it is that he said he had a degree when he may not have had one.  I have known plenty of people who didn't have the "piece of paper" required for a job (whether it was bachelors or doctoral) - I've even hired a couple of them.  Having said that, I never pretended to be running an educational instituion.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@PaulinNH @DawgNole  

I'm not disagreeing with you that you don't need a piece of paper to have excellent coaching ability. I'm simply saying that these two schools apparently REQUIRE that you have that college degree to even apply for the head coaching job, so not having one is indeed a problem at the two schools.