Today’s guest post is by WALEKPeppercommer Chris Gillick
For those who might not have seen it, yesterday, Manhattan College men’s basketball coach Steve Masiello had a multi-million dollar job offer rescinded by the University of South Florida. The reason?
Allegedly lying on his resume.
Masiello attended the University of Kentucky from 1996-2000, and was a member of the basketball team for all four years. But a Kentucky spokesman has stated to the media that Masiello did not earn a degree.
From a crisis PR standpoint, these incidents have few, if any, winners. But these instances get a PR professional’s blood flowing fast. If I were the crisis PR manager for any of the parties involved, here would be my advice for each.
University of South Florida: BE THANKFUL AND CONTINUE YOUR COACHING SEARCH. South Florida probably comes out looking the best. It cut its losses and potential further embarrassment quickly, and should be thankful that no introductory press conference was ever held. The school can now continue its search for a new coach in relative peace. The search firm definitely earned its fee here.
Manhattan College: DISMISS MASIELLO. On Wednesday afternoon, the school put out the following statement:
[Steve] 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.
The school is in a tough spot whether it ultimately keeps him or not. Keep him, and the school risks being perceived as emphasizing winning games over academic integrity, a major deal for a small, Catholic school. Dismiss him, and the school all but admits that it made a mistake. After all, nothing was said about this when Masiello was hired in 2011. The school did follow some emergency protocol on Wednesday, removing reference to the credential on Masiello’s official bio. But in the name of integrity, the school should part ways with its coach.
Rick Pitino: CLAIM IGNORANCE AND FOCUS ON YOUR UPCOMING NCAA TOURNAMENT GAME. Hall of Fame coach Pitino is Masiello’s lifelong mentor and biggest advocate. The two faced off against each other in an NCAA tournament game last week, with the teacher barely beating his pupil. Pitino later endorsed Masiello for the USF job. When reached by ESPN, Pitino said, “If it’s accurate, I’m shocked by it. I had no idea… He was on track to graduate.” However, Pitino is senior enough in the coaching ranks that this is just a short term crisis for him.
Steve Masiello: PLEAD FOR YOUR JOB BACK, AND COMPLETE YOUR DEGREE THIS SUMMER. Once Masiello’s degree status is ultimately determined by Kentucky, Masiello should make a heartfelt public apology one way or the other. That apology should include the specific reason why this came up and why the credential has remained on his resume all these years. If he indeed did not earn his degree, he should pledge to complete it as soon as practically possible.