One of the top emerging coaches in the NCAA was knocked down a peg Wednesday when South Florida pulled out of a deal to hire Steve Masiello as their next head coach.
Masiello, the current head coach of Manhattan, failed a background check after it was discovered he lied about graduating from Kentucky, according to an ESPN report.
He has been placed on leave by Manhattan he reviews his degree status with the University of Kentucky, according to the school.
Masiello was a point guard for the Wildcats from 1996 to 2000 under Rick Pitino — who recruited him — and Tubby Smith after Pitino left for the NBA. He was a member of Kentucky's 1998 national championship team.
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Pitino brought Masiello to Louisville in 2005 after previously serving as an assistant for Manhattan College. He was an assistant under Pitino until 2011 when he left to take the head job with the Jaspers. He reportedly included on his resume that he had graduated from Kentucky when he worked for Louisville and when he was hired by Manhattan.
The 36-year-old Masiello emerged as one of the top young coaching candidates in the country this season. He led Manhattan to a 25-8 record in 2013-14 and made the NCAA tournament as winner of the MAAC tournament.
There the Jaspers were matched up with his old mentor Pitino and Louisville as a No. 13 seed in the second round of the NCAA tournament. The Jaspers fought hard against the No. 4-seeded Cardinals, but lost 71-64 on March 20.
USF, which fired head coach Stan Heath after a 12-20 season and 3-15 record in the AAC, moved immediately to hire Masiello after the Jaspers were eliminated. Masiello reportedly had agreed to sign with the Bulls, and was working on a contract while the school looked into his background and found the discrepancy.
SBNation reported the deal was worth $6.2 million over five years to coach the Bulls.
Masiello had reportedly already informed his players at Manhattan that he was leaving the school.Manhattan has not commented on whether they will bring back Masiello next season.
Rutgers head basketball coach Eddie Jordan ran into a similar problem last year when it came out he had never graduated from Rutgers after being hired for the job despite the school's initial claims he did. He remained the head coach and began taking classes to get his degree.
Follow Metro New York Sports Editor Mark Osborne on Twitter @MetroNYSports.