Background Check Discrepancy Axes Deal Between Masiello, South Florida (UPDATED) | Zagsblog
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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Sunday / August 9.
  • Background Check Discrepancy Axes Deal Between Masiello, South Florida (UPDATED)

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    Steve MasielloBy JOSH NEWMAN & ADAM ZAGORIA

    After it appeared that Manhattan head coach Steve Masiello taking the same position at the University of South Florida was a done deal, the entire thing blew up early Wednesday morning thanks to a major snafu.

    The Tampa Tribune is reporting that a previously undetected discrepancy in Masiello’s background check came to lightprompting South Florida to kill the deal, which was reportedly set for five years and $6.2 million.

    ESPN’s Brett McMurphy reported early Wednesday that a “Kentucky spokeswoman told ESPN that Masiello never got degree from UK as indicated on Manhattan & Louisville official websites.”

    Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com reported Tuesday that the deal was done.

    A source then confirmed to SNY.tv that Masiello was in “negotiations,” while a second source said the Manhattan players were aware it was “done.”

    According to Parrish, among the influential people who supported Masiello’s candidacy were Tampa resident and Outback Steakhouse co-founder Chris Sullivan, a close friend of Louisville head coach Rick Pitino.

    According to Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times, Masiello asked Pitino, “What do you think (about the USF job)?”

    Pitino responded: “I said, ‘For you, it’s a grand slam.'”

    Masiello, a one-time Pitino assistant, has won 60 games over three seasons in Riverdale, including a 25-8 mark and the MAAC Tournament title in 2013-14. Seeded 13th in the Midwest Region, the Jaspers fell to the Cardinals, 71-64, on Thursday evening in a Teacher vs. Pupil matchup with Pitino.

    At the age of 36, Masiello, who has two years remaining on his original 5-year deal at Manhattan, has long been considered an elite recruiter and a rising star in the coaching industry.

    “I feel very confident that I will be back at Manhattan College as the coach and I look forward to working with a great group of young men that are returning,” Masiello told the New York Post on Friday. “This is where I want to be. I want to be in New York. I want to be with these kids. I’m really excited about the future of this program.”

    What looked like Masiello’s exit from Riverdale coincided with Manhattan about to lose a standout senior class, which includes point guard Michael Alvarado, All-MAAC first team selection George Beamon and three-time MAAC Defensive Player of the Year Rhamel Brown.

    The Jaspers are not expected to be the preseason pick to win the MAAC in 2014-15, but return 10 letterwinners and should be a formidable outfit once again with sharpshooting sophomore guard Shane Richards and redshirt sophomore big man Ashton Pankey among others.

    South Florida hasn’t been an easy place to win recently. In seven seasons at the helm, Stan Heath went to the NCAA Tournament just once and finished with a sub-.500 record five times. The Bulls went 12-19 overall and 3-15 in the American Athletic Conference this season.

    Attention for the Bulls job may now turn to Florida assistant coach John Pelphrey, who recently received strong endorsements from Pitino and Gators head coach Billy Donovan. The Tampa Tribune also names Louisiana Tech head coach Mike White as a possibility.

    The 29-7 Bulldogs square off against Florida St. Wednesday evening in an NIT quarterfinal with the winner off to the semifinals at Madison Square Garden next week.

    Follow Josh Newman on Twitter