The O'Leary treatment

Kyle Riviere
Weekly Citizen Sports Editor Kyle Riviere.

These days, people are quick to believe everything they're told or everything they've read without taking the time to look into the matter and find out if it's actually true. Rather than asking questions, they rather just go with the flow; not the University of South Florida.

They didn't just look at Manhattan head coach Steve Masiello's résumé as some meaningless piece of paper that was destined for the trash can. They actually read it.

And what they read, they didn't just assume it was gospel. They actually took the time to look into Masiello's credentials. It's a good thing they did.

After further review, they found a glaring falsification on the résumé. Masiello claimed to have graduated from the University of Kentucky back in 2000 with a degree in communications.

Not so fast, my friend. Kentucky spokeswoman Ashley Caressen says that Masiello did in fact attend Kentucky from 1996-2000, but he never graduated.

Lies aside, this was a huge problem because according to the job description posted by South Florida in their hunt for a head coach, they made it clear that the applicant had to be a college graduate.

They wanted someone with either a Master's degree and six years of coaching experience or a bachelor's degree and at least eight years of experience. Apparently, all Masiello has to fall back on is his high school diploma.

Masiello had become a hot name within the coaching ranks after leading his Manhattan Jaspers to the NCAA Tournament this year and a near-upset win over Louisville in the opening round.

The Cardinals' Rick Pitino is actually Masiello's mentor. Masiello played for him at Kentucky and also coached on Pitino's staff at Louisville for seven years before taking the head coaching position at Manhattan.

Pitino was blind-sided by the news. He said, "If it's accurate, I'm shocked by it. I had no idea. I left the previous year, and he was on track to graduate."

Now, as a result of this snafu, South Florida has reneged their job offer, and Manhattan has placed Masiello on administrative leave until they finish looking into the situation. After all, they require their head coach to have a college degree as well.

The incident has instantly brought up old memories of Central Florida head football coach George O'Leary.

O'Leary was all set to take his dream job at Notre Dame back in 2001 but just a few days after being hired, discrepancies were discovered on his résumé once a newspaper did a little digging.

O'Leary claimed to have earned three letters in football at the University of New Hampshire but after The Manchester Union Leader called UNH to research the story, they found out that O'Leary never stepped foot on the field.

After this information became public, O'Leary offered his resignation, but Notre Dame Athletic Director Kevin White decided to let it slide and give him a reprieve.

He asked O'Leary if there were any other inaccuracies in his résumé. That's when O'Leary informed him that the NYU-Stony Brook University--where he claimed to have earned his Master's degree--didn't really exist.

In fact, he only took two classes at the real Stony Brook University, and he never graduated. That's when White accepted the resignation that O'Leary had offered earlier.

Thankfully, O'Leary has rebounded from the embarrassing fall from grace and has done a tremendous job at Central Florida.

But what happened to him should have been a cautionary tale for all coaches filling out résumés and applying for jobs at other schools.

The incident spawned a simple lesson but one that screamed loudly: don't embellish, don't mislead but most importantly, don't lie.

Information is too assessable these days, and the media cloud is too widespread. As Masiello found out, all it takes is one phone call to expose your lie, destroy your job opportunity and tarnish your reputation as a coach.

Even if the job doesn't require a college degree, you're out of the picture if you lie. It's not about having a degree; it's about being dishonest.

Masiello lied to South Florida, plain and simple. That's an automatic red flag; it's an automatic deal-breaker. If he's lying on his résumé, what other acts of dishonesty might he partake in as your head coach?

Could he cheat the system? Could he become a serial NCAA rules violator? If the NCAA interviews him, would he have a second thought about lying to them? Would he turn into Kelvin Sampson or Bruce Pearl and get your school into hot water over lies and the repeated bending and breaking of the rules?

Lying on your résumé, it seems harmless. There are people all over the country guilty of doing it to some extent every day.

But the questions above, they are the reasons why athletic directors can't take a chance on a possible hire that does it.