Manhattan Extends Masiello in Leap of Faith

by Megan Dreher & Pete Janny, Senior Writer & Managing Editor

Steve Masiello’s run at Manhattan College will live on. On Feb. 14, Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports reported that both sides came to an agreement on a new contract extension that will keep Masiello in charge through the 2022-2023 season.

Currently in his ninth season as head coach for Manhattan, Masiello won’t have to worry about his job status for the foreseeable future. This is the second time Masiello has been extended by Manhattan after agreeing to new terms back in 2016 that locked him in through the 2019-2020 season. The timing of this latest deal has come into question with some wondering why the school wouldn’t just wait until the end of the season to make a decision on Masiello’s future. On top of it all, the team’s recent struggles in the aftermath of the extension has ignited even more skepticism from fans. In four games since the announcement, the Jaspers are 0-4, having been outscored by 40 points over that span.

Meanwhile, Masiello is motivated to get the Jaspers back to a level of competitiveness that rivals his early Manhattan teams. The future is full of unknown, but Masiello can look back and appreciate how far the program has come under his auspices.

“It’s a huge compliment and I’m extremely humbled by it,” Masiello said of the extension following Friday night’s 67-64 home loss to Saint Peter’s. “To have the brand recognition where it is I think is a complement to our administration, our athletic department, and to our players.”

Athletic Director Marianne Reilly, who has overseen Masiello’s work with the men’s basketball program since 2016, has complete faith in the direction the program is heading in under the 42-year-old Masiello. With a young team intact, Reilly is confident that Masiello is equipped to maximize the talent of the burgeoning talent currently assembled. More importantly, Reilly is proud of the great mentor Masiello is.

“Steve has been a great mentor to our student-athletes during his time at Manhattan College,” Reilly said according to Go Jaspers. “We have a young team that is improving every day. We’re looking forward to having Steve continue to lead this group and build on their success.”

Masiello has experienced a lot during his time in Riverdale. He made a strong first impression on the school during his time as an assistant coach from 2001-2005 in which he helped lead the program to back-to-back MAAC Championships in 2003 and 2004. Then, after spending six years as an assistant at Louisville under his former coach Rick Pitino, Masiello returned to Manhattan in 2011 to assume the head gig. He quickly rebuilt a program that had won six games in the 2010-2011 season to a 21-win team in his first season. Winning soon became a regular occurence in Riverdale, with Masiello capturing MAAC Championships in 2014 and 2015 to emerge as a rising star in the coaching ranks. Overall, Masiello owns a 138-144 record in nine seasons as head coach of Manhattan and has a school-record 10 MAAC Tournament wins.

“In nine years we’ve come from one of the bottom division one programs in the country to winning two MAAC Championships [2014 and 2015],” Masiello said of his success at Manhattan.

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Masiello focuses on the game from the sidelines.

Despite the astronomical rise of the program under Masiello, there have been plenty of frustrations along the way. At the conclusion of the 2013-2014 season, Masiello agreed with the University of South Florida to become the school’s next head coach. The rest is history, with South Florida choosing to rescind the offer after learning that Masiello’s records had falsely indicated that he had graduated from the University of Kentucky. Manhattan was gracious enough to take Masiello back under the condition that he would return to Kentucky to satisfy graduation requirements; of which he eventually did in May of 2014. Since that infamous incident, the Jaspers have compiled a mediocre 67-93 record across six seasons.

Following Sunday’s 57-56 home loss to Canisius, Manhattan owns an overall record of 11-14 with a 7-9 mark in MAAC play. The team is now stuck in a four-way tie at sixth place as they continue to lose ground in their pursuit of a top five seed for the MAAC tournament. In a season that has featured tight competition throughout the MAAC, Masiello should be holding out hope that his team gets hot in March to give them a shot at their first MAAC Championship in five years. Given the top five teams are guaranteed a first-round bye in the tournament, it’s imperative that the Jaspers finish up their last four games on a strong note.

Manhattan will look to snap their four-game losing streak when they host the Marist Red Foxes (7-18, 6-10 MAAC) on Wednesday, Feb. 26 at 7 p.m. The first meeting between the schools on Jan. 22 ended in a 75-73 overtime win for Marist.