27 March 2014

Why Manhattan should not bring back Steve Masiello

(USA Today Sports)
After leading the Manhattan Jaspers to the 2014 MAAC Championship and their first NCAA Tournament since 2003, as well as nearly upsetting the heavily favored Louisville Cardinals in their second round matchup, Steve Masiello was considered a coach on the rise and thus was getting offers to take over bigger and better programs. He was hired by South Florida and came to an agreement on Tuesday, but that was based on the verification of his resume. However, a routine background check found that, despite what was stated on Masiello's resume, he never received a degree from the University of Kentucky. As a result, USF was not able to hire him due to a policy, a common one in college athletics, all full-time coaches must have a bachelor's degree. Masiello had told the Manhattan players that he was leaving for USF but never officially resigned his position, but now his return is in question as the university has placed him on leave.

And in my opinion, they should not bring him back.

It may seem to be overly harsh. After all he is being hired to be a basketball coach, who cares whether he was a graduate or not?

But it does matter. There is a reason why schools generally require coaches to have at least a Bachelor's degree, they are supposed to be role models for their players and if the coach did not graduate, would his or her players have the motivation to graduate. Of course, that is not always the case but it is at least the intention.

And who knows what lying on his resume about graduating from Kentucky has perhaps done for Masiello's career. Would he even have this career had the truth been on his resume from the get-go? Gregg Doyel points out that Masiello likely does not get his first coaching job, an entry-level staffer position at Tulane, had it been known that had he did not have a degree? He goes on to say that fudging your resume is not necessarily a victim-less crime because his lie led to him getting positions he would not have gotten otherwise that should have gone to somebody else that perhaps had not lied on his resume.

I understand that it is easy to come off like I am on a high horse, and it is also not certain how short Masiello is of his degree. Also, there is no question that Masiello is a good coach but while that should not matter in the grand scheme of things, to state that it is not a factor would be rather ignorant.

Not to mention that one could point to Rutgers' handling of the Eddie Jordan affair where it turned out that Jordan did not have a degree from the school as precedent for Manhattan welcoming Masiello back. But there are some clear differences. First, Manhattan requires a coach to have a Bachelor's degree, Rutgers does not. Also, Rutgers formally introduced Jordan as the coach and then said on the website that he had a degree, apparently not putting him through any sort of a background check to where they would contact the registrar's office to see if he had a degree. I did not feel that Jordan should be fired for what was not only his mistake, but a major mistake on the part of the school considering he was an alum. But of course, you could find fault with Manhattan for not doing their due diligence to know that Masiello did not have a degree, as well as the places that hired him before.

It is clear that Masiello made a dumb mistake, and I think that it will not be one that will or should ruin his career. But a rule is a rule and I think it would be hypocritical for Manhattan to bring him back because I don't think a less high-profile of a coach, and certainly not one that has brought them success and some spotlight thanks to the NCAA Tournament, would be given the same leeway.

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