In a stunning move just two weeks before the start of the college men’s basketball season, Manhattan fired head coach Steve Masiello, the school announced Tuesday afternoon.
Masiello was entering the final year of his contract and sources said he asked for a contract extension, which was not granted. He was replaced on an interim basis by assistant RaShawn Stores, a former Manhattan player under Masiello.
“We thank Coach Masiello for his service and wish him well,” Manhattan athletic director Marianne Reilly said in a statement. “As we look to build successful teams for the future – and with the recruitment season starting soon and coach Masiello’s contract ending in April 2023 – we have determined that now is the right time to start. to rebuild from top to bottom.”
The move came at a surprising time. Manhattan was chosen to finish second to MAAC in the preseason coaches’ poll, and Jose Perez, a fifth-year senior forward, was selected as preseason player of the year.
Masiello coached for 11 seasons at the Bronx school, reaching the NCAA Tournament in 2014 and 2015. But he failed to finish over .500 in the past seven years. The Jaspers were expected to improve significantly in the coming season, with Perez, forward Josh Roberts and Hofstra signing Omar Silverio.
“It was a very tough day for me and honestly the coach was the most caring person I have ever met,” tweeted Perez, a Bronx native who averaged 18.9 points and 4 .5 assists last season. “He cared so much about his players and honestly that would be [be] very difficult for me to put Jasper’s uniform back on if the coach is not on the sidelines.
“I love you coach!”
Perez told the Post that he entered the transfer portal on Tuesday. He believes several teammates will leave as well, based on their reaction to the news and conversations he’s had with them.
Not so long ago, Masiello was considered a rising star. In the 2014 NCAA Tournament, he nearly beat his mentor Rick Pitino and Louisville, with his Jaspers seeded 13th.
Later in March, he verbally agreed to take the head coaching position at South Florida, but the offer was rescinded when it emerged that Masiello did not, as his resume l said, graduated from Kentucky. He graduated in August and returned to Manhattan after being placed on temporary leave.
New York Post