Manhattan Coach Masiello Put on Leave After Job Offer Is Pulled

Manhattan College men’s basketball coach Steve Masiello has been put on leave after a background check by prospective employer South Florida turned up questions about whether he lied about having a college degree.

South Florida confirmed it reached an agreement in principle with Masiello, who led Manhattan to a 25-8 record this season, then withdrew its offer after his credentials “could not be substantiated” during the verification process.

Manhattan said Masiello, 39, is reviewing his degree status with the University of Kentucky, where he played basketball from 1996 through 2000 under coaches Rick Pitino and Tubby Smith. Masiello’s profile on Manhattan’s website says he graduated from Kentucky with a degree in communications.

Manhattan said in a statement yesterday that Masiello will remain on leave while he completes the review process with Kentucky.

Masiello has compiled a 60-39 record in three seasons at Manhattan. He was an assistant at Manhattan from 2001-05 and then at the University of Louisville under Pitino for the next six seasons before taking over as the Jaspers’ coach in 2011.

South Florida is seeking a replacement for Stan Heath, who was fired this month after compiling a 97-130 record over seven seasons. Masiello became a candidate for the job shortly after receiving praise from Pitino following Manhattan’s 71-64 loss to Louisville on March 20 in the second round of the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament.