TAMPA, Fla. — Steve Masiello’s promising coaching career is in limbo after his deal with South Florida fell apart because he doesn’t have a college diploma.
Manhattan College said Wednesday that it had placed him on leave while Masiello is “reviewing his degree status.”
South Florida confirmed earlier Wednesday that the school had an agreement in principle to lure Masiello away from Manhattan, but that the contract was contingent on “a verification of credentials.”
USF requires its basketball coach to have at least a bachelor’s degree. The 39-year-old Masiello did not graduate after attending Kentucky, where he played for Rick Pitino and Tubby Smith from 1996-2000.
“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,” the school said in a brief statement. “The national search continues and USF looks forward to introducing a new coach at the appropriate time.”
Masiello has a 61-39 record in three seasons at Manhattan. The Jaspers went 28-5 this season, which ended with a close loss to Louisville in the NCAA tournament.
Kentucky spokesman Jay Blanton verified Masiello was a student there from 1996-2000 in the college of communication, but did not graduate. Masiello’s bio on Manhattan’s web site says the coach graduated from Kentucky in 2000 with a degree in communications.
Manhattan said in a statement that it “learned there is a question of the validity” of Masiello’s degree after South Florida commissioned a background check.
“Masiello is currently in the process of reviewing his degree status with the University of Kentucky,” the statement said. “Manhattan College has placed Masiello on leave while he completes this process with the university.”
Masiello, a former assistant under Pitino at Louisville, was going to replace former USF coach Stan Heath, who was fired this month.
A one-time ball boy for Pitino when his mentor was coach of the New York Knicks, Masiello was a walk-on at Kentucky and part of a team that made two trips to the Final Four and won one national championship. He was an assistant at Manhattan and Tulane before spending six seasons on Pitino’s staff at Louisville.
USF fired Heath on March 14 after the Bulls finished 12-20, including 3-15 in their first season in the American Athletic Conference. The Bulls appeared to be on the rise two years ago, when they tied a school record with 22 wins and made their first appearance in the NCAA tournament in two decades.
But Heath won just 24 games over his final two seasons.