It’s unfortunate that plans for the University of South Florida to hire high-profile Manhattan College coach Steve Masiello fell apart at the last minute.
But the harsh attacks on the university that have followed the surprising development are off base.
The USF administration did the right thing in rejecting the deal when its search firm discovered Masiello never graduated from college, though his resume listed a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kentucky.
Yet USF President Judy Genshaft and new athletic director Mark Harlan now are being pilloried for the deal that never was.
They are not the ones who misrepresented anything. They never hired Masiello or publicly announced they planned to do so.
As the Tribune’s Joey Johnston reports, the university and coach had reached “an agreement in principle,” but the hiring was contingent upon Masiello’s credentials being verified.
It is easy after-the-fact to criticize Harlan and Genshaft for not checking on the degree status earlier. But such verification is not generally done until a deal is in the works. Moreover, Masiello had coached at two other universities. There was no reason to suspect anything was amiss.
What’s surprising here is that Masiello would pursue such a deal, knowing he did not have a college degree, a key requirement for the job. Did he think USF would not check?
The bottom line is that before completing the deal, USF performed its due diligence and discovered a qualification gap that had apparently had gone undetected by Masiello’s other employers.
It’s too bad things didn’t work out. But we don’t think USF should be faulted for being thorough and demanding honesty.