Despite criticism, Athletics’ search firm saved face

By Vinnie Portell, COLUMNIST
On April 1, 2014

 

With the hiring of former Kentucky assistant Orlando Antigua on Monday afternoon, the USF coaching search is officially over.

Throughout the process, fans on Twitter and students around campus criticized USF’s decision to hire the Texas-based national search firm Eastman & Beaudine to vet potential coaching candidates. But perhaps the firm, which was paid $60,000, did more good for the university that is evident.

When the deal with Manhattan coach Steve Masiello fell through with USF, many people turned the blame to the university rather than pointing to the fact that a timely discovery by Eastman & Beaudine helped USF save face.

While Masiello has an impressive basketball resume, his coaching resume still needs a little work. The search firm discovered that Masiello didn’t actually have a degree from the University of Kentucky unlike his resume stated. Bulls fans were outraged at the “botching” of the hire, but hiring an unqualified coach is a distraction a struggling basketball program doesn’t need.

If Masiello accepted the job with the Bulls and his lack of a degree was revealed after the fact, it would not only be embarrassing for the university, but it would likely require Masiello to be fired at some point during the season, whenever the news eventually broke. With Antigua, the Bulls now have a coach to whom they can confidently handover the reins.

Eastman & Beaudine not only saved the university from embarrassment, but it helped new USF Athletic Director Mark Harlan avoid a scandal in his first big decision. The firm was used in hiring Harlan and there was speculation when Harlan hired them to find a men’s basketball coach after being chosen as an Athletic Director. Despite speculation of handing over almost $200,000 in search fees for the Athletic Director and the men’s basketball coach search combined, the choice proved to be worthwhile.

Eastman & Beaudine is regarded as one of the top search firms in the business and have previously hired coaches Scott Drew of Baylor basketball and Mick Cronin of Cincinnati basketball. Certainly when a school invests almost $200,000 into anything, there should not be questions as to the effectiveness and productivity of the investment. But by preventing USF from hiring Masiello, Eastman & Beaudine gave the Bulls their money’s worth in the prevention of a future scandal.

Vinnie Portell is a
sophomore majoring in mass communications.

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