Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Reports: Manhattan's Masiello To Move To USF

Multiple sources, and very credible ones including the hometown Tampa Tribune newspaper, are reporting today that Manhattan's coach Steve Masiello has already accepted an offer from University of South Florida to become that school's next head coach.

The reports indicate that Masiello will be introduced at the Tampa school, a member of the American Athletic Association, later this week.

Manhattan fans, as do all followers of mid-major programs when a coach moves on, might view Masiello's departure as a desertion, particularly in light of recent comments he made that indicated he would remain at the MAAC school, that he envisioned his future would include staying there.

The proper response, though, is to tip one's hat, to thank Masiello for resuscitating a downtrodden program and to congratulate him for a well-earned promotion.

Reports indicate he will receive a five-year contract that will pay a minimum of $1 million annually, probably close to quadruple his Manhattan salary.

Can you blame him for moving on?

Hard to resist financial security, a significantly higher level of competition, warm weather and a school that, according to published reports, is making a big financial commitment to bettering existing facilities and the program overall.

Masiello is far from the first to exit the MAAC after a relatively short stay.

Former Siena coach Paul Hewitt left for Georgia Tech after three seasons at Loudonville. Heck, his replacement, Louis Orr, lasted all of 49 weeks with the Saints before he moved on to Seton Hall. Kevin Willard was only at Iona for three seasons before he was hired at Seton Hall.

Coaches moving onward and upwards is a way of life not only in the MAAC but at nearly every other mid-major level program nationally. Smaller schools just don't have the resources to make the financial commitment to coaches and programs that high-major level institutions can make.

Masiello did much good at Manhattan, taking a program that won just six games the year prior his his arrival to a 25-8 record and an NCAA Tournament appearance this season.

Still, he often admitted he was left with a full deck, thanks to the recruiting work of previous coach Barry Rohrssen, who was responsible for bringing the current senior core of forward Rhamel Brown, swingman George Beamon and point guard Michael Alvarado to Manhattan.

All three are now gone, and Manhattan doesn't appear stocked enough with returnees to come close to duplicating this season's run, at least not immediately.

Coaches are most attractive when their respective team is at its best, and Manhattan hasn't been this good in a decade.

Were Masiello to return and the team doesn't duplicate this year's success, he becomes a less-viable commodity in the coaching world and, just maybe, an opportunity like the USF's isn't as available.

There's the old cliché about striking when the iron is hot, and Masiello's job stature has never been at its current elevated temperature.

So, no, you can't blame him for moving on.

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