Manhattan: Steve Masiello on leave

NEW YORK -- Manhattan College has placed coach Steve Masiello on leave while he reviews his degree status at the University of Kentucky, the school announced Wednesday.

Masiello had reached an agreement in principle to become coach at South Florida, but the agreement was then terminated after that school conducted a background check.

Manhattan also confirmed Wednesday that Masiello has not resigned as the Jaspers' coach.

"As a result of a background check commissioned by the University of South Florida, Manhattan College has learned there is a question of the validity of head men's basketball coach Steve Masiello's undergraduate degree from the University of Kentucky," reads a statement from Manhattan. "Masiello is currently in the process of reviewing his degree status with the University of Kentucky. Manhattan College has placed Masiello on leave while he completes this process with the university."

A bachelor's degree is required of Manhattan's coach, Manhattan spokesman Peter McHugh told the New York Times. Concerning Masiello's future at Manhattan if the school determines he has no degree, McHugh told the New York Times, "That is for our administration to determine."

Kentucky spokesman Jay Blanton verified Masiello was a student there from 1996 to 2000, in the college of communication, but said he did not graduate. Masiello's bio on Manhattan's website says he graduated from Kentucky in 2000 with a degree in communications.

Masiello, who played at Kentucky and was an assistant to coach Rick Pitino at Louisville, led the Jaspers to the NCAA tournament this season and a near upset of the Cardinals in the second round last week.

A one-time ball boy for Pitino when his mentor was coach of the New York Knicks, Masiello was a walk-on at Kentucky and part of a team that made two trips to the Final Four and won one national championship. He was an assistant at Manhattan and Tulane before spending six seasons on Pitino's staff at Louisville.

Masiello was going to replace former USF coach Stan Heath, who was fired on March 14 after the Bulls finished 12-20, including 3-15 in the American Athletic Conference's inaugural season.

Hall of Fame coach Jim Calhoun, who won three national titles at Connecticut, told ESPNNewYork.com's Ian O'Connor that Manhattan should take back Masiello.

"I'd take him back," Calhoun said. "We have a semi-parallel situation at Rutgers, where (Eddie Jordan) didn't have his degree, and they kept him. Why did they hire him in the first place? Why was Manhattan going to extend their offer to Coach Masiello? Because they want him. ... So, he's the same guy he was before, and he made an error on his resume, and he's going to have to fix that up and get his degree, I'm sure. But I would take him back in a heartbeat."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.