Manhattan’s Own Failures Led to Masiello Reinstatement

Whether you think it was the right or the wrong thing for Manhattan to reinstate Steve Masiello, upon the condition that he complete his undergraduate degree over the summer, you have to realize Manhattan was backed into a corner on this one: one of their own making.

Now these two parties needed each other. They both hid this skeleton in their closet. Whether either party knew, there is a certain irony that Manhattan did reach the decision to retain Masiello. It was probably their only choice given the circumstances.

“After an extensive review of the situation and extenuating circumstances, we determined that Mr. Masiello executed poor judgment but did not intentionally misrepresent himself in applying to the College,” Manahttan college president Brendan O’Donnell in his Monday statement.

O’Donnell later went on to say, in a message to the whole school, “While we do not condone Mr. Masiello’s mistake, we believe it was a genuine one and that he deserves a path to reinstatement. Since Manhattan College’s founding by the De La Salle Brothers in 1853, we have been an institution that strives always to strike the right balance of justice and mercy in matters such as this.”

And Manhattan should be lenient, for if USF, didn’t sign Masiello to a million-dollar contract without finishing a background check, we might not have known about this mistake. The $60,000 payment made to the Eastman & Beaudine search firm, uncovered a mistake years in the making.

The school had to retain Masiello because they are just as culpable as he was in accepting his lie, whether it was “intentional” or not. This resume issue could’ve appeared 13 years ago, when the school hired him for the first time, officially, on August 21, 2001 as an assistant coach.

The release said Masiello was hired as the second assistant to then head coach Bobby Gonzalez and also, the first line that introduces the future Jaspers head coach is infamous now.

MEN’S BASKETBALL PROMOTES BRAMUCCI TO FIRST ASSISTANT

RIVERDALE, NY (August 21, 2001) – Manhattan College men’s basketball Head Coach Bobby Gonzalez announced the promotion of Mike Bramucci to the first assistant coach position Monday as well as the hiring of Travis Lyons ’98 and Stephen Masiello as second and third assistants, respectively.

Masiello graduated from the University of Kentucky in 2000 where he played for both Rick Pitino and Tubby Smith. While there, he was part of a National Championship team and went to the Final Four twice. Last year, he served as the administrative assistant at Tulane. Masiello roots, however, are in the greater New York area as he grew up in White Plains and graduated from Archbishop Stepinac High School.

(in case it gets edited, here is a screenshot of the archived release)

Manhattan was the first school to hire Masiello as a coach, after he spent a stint as an administrative assistant at Tulane. The athletic website also lists Masiello’s biography when he was in his second season as the team’s top assistant, which would be the 2004-05 season.

Stephen Masiello

Masiello is entering his fourth season as an assistant coach with the Jaspers and his second as Gonzalez’s top assistant.

Prior to coming to Manhattan, Masiello served as the Administrative Assistant under Tulane Head Coach and former Kentucky Assistant Coach Shawn Finney. While at Kentucky, Masiello was part of a National Championship team and went to the Final Four twice.

Masiello’s roots, however, are in the greater New York area as he grew up in White Plains and attended Archbishop Stepinac High School. Following his junior year at Stepinac, Masiello attended the Harvey School in Katonah, NY. In his first year at Harvey, the school won the New England Prep School Athletic Association Championship. Masiello led the conference in scoring in his final year at Harvey and was among the nation’s high school scoring leaders averaging approximately 34 ppg.

(in case it gets edited, here is a screenshot of the archived release)

The Jaspers are Masiello’s longest employer in the basketball industry, yet they only found out that his credentials were flawed 13 years after his first hiring, when South Florida was combing through his credentials after he signed on with the Bulls.

The thought that it is Masiello’s fault, whether he knowingly or unknowingly misrepresented his credentials, is valid, but so is the fact that his longest employer never checked on this and hired him twice. Bob Byrnes, who is finishing a 26 season tenure as Jaspers athletic director, along with head coach Bobby Gonzalez were the first to hire Masiello in a coaching capacity. Byrnes and the Jaspers hired Masiello, promoted him to associate head coach when he was an assistant, and signed him to a five-year contract to be their head coach in 2011.

masiello-stockton
Manhattan and head coach Steve Masiello (center) needed each other to rectify the school and his own resume mistakes in the past. (photo courtesy: Stockton Photo)

Gonzalez had him on staff for four seasons, as his second assistant before promoting him. Either Byrnes and his staff did not perform the proper checking of credentials, or they trusted in their head coach to make the decision of adding staff members. If Masiello did not graduate and lied about it, his first lie was made in August 2001 and went unchecked by Manhattan’s athletic administrators and human resources professionals.

After their round of 64 loss to Louisville, Masiello talked about entertaining an extension with the Jaspers and said, “I feel very confident that I will be back at Manhattan College as the coach… This is where I want to be.” Considering Masiello has to graduate and has two seasons left on a five-year contract, those extension talks will likely be tabled for the time being.

Manhattan is culpable for their part in hiring him and not realizing his resume was suspect until the next employer found an issue. However, they had to keep him because not retaining the head coach would have been catastrophic.

For just under two weeks, Masiello’s three assistant coaches: Matt Grady, Rasheen Davis and Mathiew Wilson, along with director of basketball operations Mike Bramucci were in limbo. They helped recruit and shape a roster that currently adds four commitments. 

The class was highly regarded in most recruiting circles and on Nov. 18 all four: Samson Akilo, Samson Usilo, Calvin Crawford and Zane Waterman signed to join the 2014-15 freshman class. For a school that loses a senior core of Michael Alvarado, George Beamon and Rhamel Brown, rebuilding the roster back to championship form cannot be stunted by losing a recruiting class.

In keeping Masiello, as long as he completes his undergraduate degree, Manhattan found a way to save face and seems to have escaped their part of the blame as Masiello’s longest employer. Some of the blame though needs to fall on the college that knowingly employed him, even if Masiello did not intend to mislead the school, when they hired and promoted him.

Ryan Restivo covers the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, the America East conference and Hofstra for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanarestivo or contact Ryan at rrestivo[at]nycbuckets.com.

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