Manhattan Players Sticking By Steve Masiello

The controversy over Manhattan head coach Steve Masiello’s education history quickly gained national attention, overshadowing the school’s first NCAA tournament run in a decade.

masiello-brown-stockton-photo
Steve Masiello (right) shares an embrace from senior Rhamel Brown (left) after Manhattan won the MAAC tournament championship in March. (photo courtesy: Stockton Photo)

After receiving an offer to become the new head coach at the University of South Florida, a background check revealed Masiello never received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Kentucky.

Despite the media firestorm surrounding the situation, Manhattan welcomed Masiello back to his original position contingent upon completion of degree requirements at Kentucky. Associate head coach Matt Grady has been installed as interim head coach at Manhattan until Masiello fulfills his academic requirements.

The effects of the controversy were far-reaching. South Florida was forced to reopen their coaching search after thinking they had landed a prized Rick Pitino disciple, while Manhattan was faced with the moral dilemma of whether or not to welcome Masiello back to their bench.

While Masiello took a beating on the national stage, the people who know him best stood by his side.

Manhattan senior Rhamel Brown, when he was at the Gotham Hoops Invitational earlier this month, addressed the situation and praised Masiello for what he has brought to the program.

“Me and coach Masiello are very close, we talk all the time,” Brown said. “It was a tough situation for him and I’m just happy he’s been given the opportunity to coach for the school.”

“He’s a great coach and a great guy. He’s done a lot of good for a lot of people’s lives and I think he definitely deserved the second chance that he got.”

Brown saw his career best seasons under the third year head coach, winning back to back MAAC Defensive Player of the Year awards and his second straight second team All-MAAC nod.

It is not just Maisello’s current players that are standing by him. Following a standout performance in the Jordan Brand Classic at the Barclays Center earlier this month, Manhattan incoming freshman Samson Usilo also showed support for his future coach.

“I’m glad Manhattan took Steve Masiello back,” Usilo said to the New York Post. “He has his reasons for what he did. It doesn’t change anything. I love coach Masiello. He’s a very good coach. Everyone makes mistakes. What he did, he already did. He can’t change it. We have to move forward.”

Mahattan signed Usilo along with Samson Akilo, Calvin Crawford and Zane Waterman during the early signing period to lock up their class of 2014.

Vincent Simone covers Quinnipiac and the MAAC for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow him on Twitter @VTSimone.

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