N.C. State honors Gugliotta, Corchiani and their 1988-89 Wolfpack teammates

acarter@newsobserver.comFebruary 21, 2012 

— The crowd here at the RBC Center stood and roared on Tuesday night when Chris Corchiani and Tom Gugliotta appeared on the court as part of a ceremony to honor the Wolfpack’s 1988-89 team, of which both players were a part.

The ovation continued while Corchiani and Gugliotta walked off the court and disappeared into a tunnel. It had been a difficult stretch of days for both men – two of the great players in N.C. State history – after referee Karl Hess ejected them from their courtside seats during the Wolfpack’s loss against Florida State on Saturday.

Corchiani and Gugliotta were led out of the arena by police, and their ejections stirred the emotions of a frustrated N.C. State fan base. Hess offered no immediate explanation for his decision to eject Corchiani and Gugliotta, but in an email he sent to N.C. State he accused both of being demonstrative and for inciting the crowd.

A day after the ejections, on Sunday, N.C. State athletic director Debbie Yow announced that the university would honor N.C. State’s ’88-89 team with the inaugural Wolfpack Unlimited Award, which recognizes a team that never gives up and refuses to accept “the status quo.”

The ACC office later reprimanded Hess for his failure to follow the proper protocol when ejecting fans.

“It’s great, to first of all be able to get back with your old teammates and celebrate the successful season that we had,” Gugliotta said after the ceremony.

And it was especially so, he said, given the events of Saturday.

“It’ll be nice when it’s put to rest,” Gugliotta said. “But it was an unfortunate thing and it kind of left a little bad taste in your mouth for getting in trouble for something that you don’t feel was necessary. But it is what it is and if we can turn it into something positive, that’d be great.”

Gugliotta said he hasn’t received an apology from Hess or from the ACC office, though he admitted one would be appreciated.

“[I] can’t lie and say it wouldn’t be nice to know that you didn’t do anything wrong,” he said. “But that’s up to them. I’m not dying for it, but it would be nice. But it’s not going to affect my life in any way.”

Chucky Brown, a member of the ’88-89 team, also was recognized, among others, during the pregame ceremony. Now a scout for the NBA’s New Orleans Hornets, Brown said his former teammates didn’t deserve the way they were treated on Saturday.

“They weren’t irate, they weren’t swearing,” Brown said. “So the dudes that kicked them out should be kicked out, too, you know what I’m saying? So it’s just an unfortunate situation that shouldn’t have happened.

“But it’s great to come back and put a positive spin on it.”

Meanwhile, N.C. State students showed up with plenty of signs supporting Corchiani and Gugliotta. One said, “Free Corch, Free Googs.” Another said, “Don’t mess with Hess,” and it pictured the referee wearing a pair of rabbit ears.

Carter: 919-829-8944

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