Throughout the month of March, Manhattan head coach Steve Masiello was discussed as one of the coaches in line to land a position at a power conference program in the spring. He’d successfully turned around a once-struggling program, leading the Jaspers to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2004, and his team gave Louisville all it wanted before falling 71-64 in the Round of 64.
On the heels of that 25-8 campaign Masiello was offered the head coaching job at USF, and it was a hire praised by many within college basketball.
However a background check by the school revealed that Masiello had not completed his coursework at Kentucky as an undergraduate, meaning that the offer was off the table. The questions following that occurrence focused on whether or not Manhattan would allow Masiello to return to his post, as opposed to who the young coach would have on his coaching staff at USF.
Manhattan ultimately decided that Masiello would be placed on leave until he completed his degree requirements, a task completed last month. Recently reinstated by the school, Masiello made his first comments on the matter in a story written by Howie Kussoy of the New York Post. And Masiello accepted responsibility for the situation, stating that he should have done more as a 22-year old to make sure that everything was taken care of.
“Even if everyone knew the whole story, I’m wrong. But there’s a big difference between having intent to mislead and making a mistake at 22 years old. I should be held accountable and punished for it, but I never had intent to mislead people. … Some people might say, ‘I still wouldn’t have thought that,’ and I get that too because some people will say, ‘What do you mean you didn’t have your degree on your wall?’ I didn’t have my degree on my wall. It’s just something I never really thought of. I’ll tell you, it will be in August.
“Certain people will never understand. The people who are gonna think it, they’re gonna think it no matter what.”
One question to be considered in the aftermath of Masiello’s situation was how his players at Manhattan, who nearly lost their coach to another school, would react to his return. In Kussoy’s story multiple players voiced their support for Masiello, who worked hard to turn around a program that won just six games in the season prior to his arrival.
That support within the locker room will be vital as Masiello works to build on what his program has accomplished in the first three years of his tenure. Manhattan will have to account for the loss of key players Rhamel Brown, Mike Alvarado and George Beamon. But they’ll have some solid returnees to count on in 2014-15, with forward Emmy Andujar and guard Shane Richards among that group.