Steve Masiello Loses Deal with USF After Background Check Issues

South Florida is forced to restart its search for a new head basketball coach after the program nixed a deal with Steve Masiello when a discrepancy was found during his background check.

Joey Johnston of The Tampa Tribune reports Masiello had reached an agreement and signed a five-year contract with the school to replace Stan Heath. A final look into his background information led to a new discovery and USF decided to kill the deal:

That background-check information was discovered by Eastman & Beaudine, a Texas-based search firm that was paid $60,000 by USF to find candidates to replace Stan Heath, who was fired on March 14.

Masiello, 36, had agreed to a five-year contract with USF and signed the deal, believed to be worth more than $1 million per season, leaving only final details to be worked out.

South Florida released a statement on the situation on Wednesday afternoon (via Brett McMurphy of ESPN):

During the search for a new men’s basketball coach, an agreement in principle was reached by USF and candidate Steve Masiello. The agreement was pending a verification of credentials. 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.”

Gary Parrish of CBS Sports notes a source close to the situation states the discrepancy was in relation to a claim Masiello made on his resume. He reportedly listed that he graduated from Kentucky, and it turns out that wasn’t the case.

A source confirmed to that the discrepancy stems from Masiello’s resume indicating he graduated from Kentucky in 2000 even though he never actually graduated from Kentucky.

The 36-year-old head coach accumulated a 60-39 record over three years at Manhattan. He was viewed as one of the most promising young coaching prospects in the country, and moving to the American Athletic Conference with USF would have been the next step.

Masiello also received praise from Louisville coach Rick Pitino, whom he played for and coached under before taking the Manhattan job. The two squared off in the second round, with the Jaspers pushing the reigning champions to the limit in a narrow loss.

The Tampa Tribune report noted Pitino had said his protege was somebody capable of having success at USF, especially given the resources that would have been available:

Now it’s unclear what the future holds for Masiello.

As for South Florida, the program is forced to reboot the coaching search, which can be a very tricky task. Going back to other candidates who understand they weren’t the first choice likely means some extra convincing will be necessary, unless the department decides to go in a new direction altogether.

All told, it’s a unique situation because Masiello is clearly a strong coach with a growing track record and the experience of having worked with Pitino. Yet that isn’t enough to overcome discrepancies during a background check.

It will be interesting to see how both parties move forward.