USF halts deal with coach after background check - FOX 13 News

USF halts deal with coach after background check

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

USF's deal to hire Steve Masiello as its new basketball coach has fallen apart because the rising young star doesn't have a college degree.

The Bulls confirmed Wednesday that they 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 to 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."

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.

Masiello, a former assistant under Pitino at Louisville, was going to replace former USF coach Stan Heath, who was fired this month.

Masiello has a 61-39 record in three seasons at Manhattan. The Jaspers went 28-5 this season, which ended with a loss to Louisville in the NCAA tournament.

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 only won just 24 games over his final two seasons.

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