Early in the month the University of South Florida decided to end the contract of its basketball coach Stan Heath. Heath had brought the team to one NCAA Tournament in 2012 but failed to do it again since bringing an end to his career with USF. The search for the perfect replacement quickly began and ended less than a month later with Steve Masiello, a promising coach from New York.

Masiello was perfect – the resume and track record were exactly what USF was looking for. The contract was drawn up and he was ready to leave New York for a little sun shine in Florida. What could go wrong?

A background check. Turns out Masiello may have misled some people about his college education. He did attend college but while checking his credentials, USF could not verify his degree. A representative from his college has since come out and said he never completed his course work.

USF killed the multi-million dollar contract soon after the discrepancy was found, saving USF from a huge hiring mistake. Masiello is still employed with the Manhattan team but is now on leave due to the discovery. Manhattan College has advertised its coach’s degree and expertise in communications, which is now causing a bigger problem than having the head coach resign.

What can we learn from this situation?

1. Slow down

News of USF firing Heath hit the news March 14th, 11 days later USF was ready to sign a contract with Masiello. Hiring (especially when you’re talking millions) is a process that takes time. By taking your time you can interview a variety of candidates, narrow down the right one and confirm their qualifications with proper screening. It’s much easier to make a mistake in 11 days than it is in 30.

2. Do your homework

Before hiring anyone, even if their career is broadcast in the news, do your homework. USF did and it saved them from a hiring mistake. A comprehensive check should always be used. Most employers just check criminal records – a proper check should give you the whole picture. Too often people stretch the truth on a resume. Check criminal records, verify degrees, call references – do your homework.

3.  Be prepared

Finally, this lesson comes from Manhattan College. With any employee, good or bad – be prepared for a bad situation. Have a protocol in place. The college now has to answer a lot of questions while looking for answers itself. Always have a plan or policy in place for the unwanted situations.

USF may have rotten luck with coaches but they avoided another costly mistake with background screening. It would be nice to take all resumes at face value but unfortunately we can’t. Reference checks and credentialing are vital parts of any background check process… don’t believe me? Just ask USF officials, I bet they would agree.

Would you have still hired Masiello? Let us know in the comments below.


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