Steve Masiello returns to Manhattan after Jaspers reinstated coach following completion of his degree shortly after winning MAAC championship in just his third season. (Photo courtesy of Adam Zagoria via ZagsBlog.com)
Two months and eleven days later, the offseason drama surrounding Steve Masiello can finally be put to rest.
Masiello, who led Manhattan College to its first Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championship in ten years this past March, and then guided the Jaspers to a near-upset of Louisville and Rick Pitino in the NCAA Tournament, was officially reinstated as head men's basketball coach by the school moments ago, culminating a turn of events that thrust the 36-year-old coach into the spotlight inadvertently after an attempt to fill the coaching vacancy at the University of South Florida revealed his lack of an undergraduate degree.
"I am extremely grateful to Manhattan for the opportunity to return as its men's basketball coach," Masiello said in a release issued by Manhattan as he now prepares for his fourth season at the helm. "I also am happy to have completed the requirements for my degree."
Masiello, who is 60-39 as the coach of the Jaspers since replacing Barry Rohrssen in 2011, was placed on administrative leave on March 26 after the background check conducted by USF went public, and has spent the past several weeks completing his outstanding coursework in order to return to the bench. Last Thursday, ESPN's Jeff Goodman reported that Masiello had indeed satisfied his remaining requirements and would be awarded a degree in August from the University of Kentucky, but Manhattan had yet to confirm anything until today. In his absence, associate head coach Matt Grady served as the interim head coach, but assistants Rasheen Davis and Mathiew Wilson; as well as director of basketball operations Mike Bramucci, played an integral part in keeping the core of the team together, not to mention maintaining the Jaspers' highly regarded recruiting class, which appears to have gotten a boost with the verbal commitment of Jermaine Lawrence after the Queens native transferred from Cincinnati.
"We are happy to have Coach Masiello back on campus," Manhattan athletic director Noah LeFevre stated in the aforementioned release. "We are pleased that he was able to complete his academic requirements in order to enable his return. His presence will greatly benefit our men's basketball student-athletes and the entire program."
Manhattan loses George Beamon, Rhamel Brown and Michael Alvarado after the trio graduated last month, but returns nearly everyone else from their conference championship-winning squad, including forwards Emmy Andujar and Ashton Pankey, as well as sharpshooter Shane Richards.