Tudor: Yow leading the Pack through Hess mess

ctudor@newsobserver.comFebruary 21, 2012 

N.C. State Athletic Director Debbie Yow, along with Chris Corchiani, center, and Rodney Monroe, right, members of the 1989 N.C. State Wolfpack basketball team, hold up the Wolfpack Unlimited trophy during a presentation before State's game against North Carolina at the RBC Center in Raleigh, N.C.

ETHAN HYMAN — ETHAN HYMAN - ehyman@newsobserver.com

— There is no shortage of spunk in N.C. State athletic director Debbie Yow.

While there is much debate about what did and didn’t happen during a memorable six-day stretch in Wolfpack basketball, there’s no doubting Yow’s passion for her program.

Living proof of as much played out to the nth degree Tuesday night when Yow and the school held a special ceremony – the first Wolfpack Unlimited Award – to salute the ACC champion 1988-89 team in the RBC Center.

The centerpiece players were Chris Corchiani and Tom Gugliotta, whose ejections from Saturday’s loss to Florida State by league official Karl Hess infuriated and energized Wolfpack fans of all ages.

After conference officials didn’t react quickly to Hess’ actions and then issued a vague statement that Yow deemed at least marginally unacceptable, she reacted.

It’s hard to imagine that anyone could have stopped Yow from parading Corchiani, Gugliotta and their ’89 teammates to center court for a loud, but fairly quick, ovation from fans attending the game against North Carolina.

But there is little doubt that Yow – and first-year coach Mark Gottfried – endeared themselves to the fan base.

Gugliotta put it well on a pre-game radio show when he said “Yow completely had our backs.”

And although Gottfried may yet hear objections from the ACC front office, he launched a bit of a Rambo sortie on Monday at a pre-UNC pep rally.

An internet video clip of the episode revealed Gottfried openly criticizing Hess and the ACC front office.

“I think it was weak,” Gottfried said in the clip. “It was bad and I thought the official was completely out of line 100 percent. I’m disappointed, quite frankly, in the ACC, because not only did he throw out two of N.C. State’s greats, he threw out two of the ACC’s greats, and the league is supporting an official rather than supporting former great players.

“The former great players, in my opinion, were embarrassed and wronged when they shouldn’t have been. I don’t think you can have rabbit ears like that if you’re a referee and start throwing people out. I was disappointed in the whole thing. So they gave a reprimand … to the official, but it was pretty weak in my opinion.”

Critics can – and have – accused Yow of preaching a sermon to the choir and just itching for a chance to throw some red meat to a fan base starving for genuine basketball excitement.

But only a few days after the ACC made a decision not to assure fans on both sides of the rivalry of the tradition home-and-home annual series, N.C. State’s fans were eager for something to remind them of an era before the Tar Heels’ domination.

Yow saw that opening. And whether you agree with the moment of showmanship or not, the record has to denote that referee Karl Hess gave her a chance to bond with her fans. To her credit, she made the most of what otherwise was a 76-62 Pack loss to Florida State in a game that was probably more important than most folks will remember.

Tudor: 919-829-8946

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