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USF avoided a public-relations misstep when it rescinded coaching offer

Steve Masiello was about to leave one good job for a better one (higher pay and much better weather).  Within a few hours, the contract for him to coach men’s basketball at the University of South Florida was yanked from under his chin and the job rescinded.

Masiello won’t move to Tampa because the moving van got stuck in a snow ditch in Manhattan. He’s hopefully, gratefully in good health. By all accounts, he’s a quality head coach. He won’t be coaching at USF next season because he lied on his resume about earning a degree from the University of Kentucky.

There has been discussion among fans and media about whether it’s important for a basketball coach to have a college degree. In my opinion, it’s about as important as it was for the late Steve Jobs to have one to create a multi-billion dollar company at Apple (he didn’t have a college degree). There are lots of ways to educate and refine skills, and that doesn’t always happen in a classroom.

The issue for Masiello, USF and others like them is that they engage in a profession that pays generously at what are considered institutions for higher learning. If you preach the value of good grades and diplomas to student-athletes, it seems prudent that the person who will spend more time with those student-athletes than teachers or classmates, be held to the same standard.

Many will say that it was a little white lie that sidelined Masiello’s career, at least for the short term. I think that while it may be a substantial reason, that he’s coaching at universities in jobs that emphasize education plays as big a role. USF and later, Manhattan College, his current/former/current school which put him on leave after the resume discrepancy was discovered at South Florida, had no choice in taking steps back. After several PR missteps during the last several years, USF couldn’t afford another.

Universities and the NCAA are famous for double-speak when it comes to the “student” part of what the moniker “student-athlete” means. In this case, however, the schools got it right.

Disclaimer: I am a University of South Florida alumnus who began studies in the classroom and completed them via correspondence with the blessings of my employers at the time.


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