Our attention on the NCAA college basketball tournament was temporarily diverted by the non-courtside drama that played out this week when the University of South Florida revoked its head coaching offer to Steve Masiello after it learned that he lied about his educational credentials.
Coach Masiello had signed a deal to become head coach of USF’s basketball program. However, the USF background check revealed that Masiello had never actually graduated from the University of Kentucky as he claimed on his resume. USF rescinded the job offer as a result – something perfectly legal of course because an offer of employment or an ensuing contract based on false information can be revoked if the false information is important to the employer making the hiring decision.
Fraudulent credentials in the workforce – whether outright lies, half-truths or shades of it – are rampant. It is easy to understand why some employers cannot easily uncover inflated job titles, salaries, or how long an applicant was really employed in a prior job because that information is only available if prior employers are willing to release it. Although it would seem that confirming educational credentials is easy, that is not always the case. Last spring, this firm represented the Amedica Corporation at trial in its successful defense of various employment contract claims brought by its former CEO. The company succeeded in part because its CEO had claimed to have a BS in Business Administration from “LaSalle University,” and it turned out that the “LaSalle” he referred to on his resume was a diploma mill in Mandeville, Louisiana run by an individual who was later convicted and served time for Federal mail and wire fraud.
The point is that at first blush, credentials that seem fine on the surface may in fact be completely bogus. The time to vet the candidate – and I mean really vet the candidate – is before the person sets foot in the employer’s door.