We’re not overreacting here, and we’re not in the mood to let this go easily. Luckily for us, we might actually have some help from elsewhere in the blogosphere and even from, of all folks, (gasp) the media.
There’s no such thing as an “ACC official” per se. Instead, all the officials who work in the league are NCAA officials. The ACC carries 64 referees its roster, and about 40 of those are primary for the league. That means they can work games in other leagues, and they do, but their first priority is to fill the 30 or so ACC dates they’re offered.
It’s no surprise that Clougherty believes the officials who work in the ACC are the best in the country, but he backs it up.
Then there’s Hess, who has a PhD in marriage and family therapy and makes his living with a private psychology practice in Virginia. A four-year hoops player at Liberty University, he’s married and has two children and coaches a 13-under baseball team that won a national championship two years ago.
“I never thought about being an official,” Hess said. “When I played I thought all officials were nuts and a pain in the neck.”
Hess said he has a naturally thick skin, so he isn’t bothered by verbal insults from the stands. He believes fans paid to see a game and can yell what they want, as long as they stay in their seats.
“You’re a fan and you’re entitled to your opinion,” he said. “You have to be able to deal with that when you put that black and white shirt on and become an official. If not, you need to go home.”
I couldn’t agree more with Hess: he’s nuts, a pain in the neck, and he needs to go home.
This morning, Gugs and Fire were on The Insiders with Mike Mansicalco and Mark Thomas (WRAL):
“When a fan, spectator gets ejected from a ball game, there should be some reason why, and I think the ACC conference owes that to us to say, ‘This is why Karl Hess did that’ and we haven’t gotten that yet,” Corchiani told the Insiders.
NC State athletic director Debbie Yow requested an explanation from the ACC following Hess’ ejection of the two former players following Saturday’s game. The ACC issued a statement later that evening saying referees are allowed to remove fans at their discretion, and Hess may have not followed the right protocol in doing that and that would be reviewed with him.
“The only thing we can think of is we got underneath his skin,” Corchiani said. “We stood up. There was a handful of calls. It wasn’t just Karl Hess, it was the other two officials, that appeared to have a little thicker skin than him.”
“There was certainly no profanity used and nothing was always directed at [Hess]. We were yelling at bad calls. We cheered for them when they made good calls,” said Gugliotta. “We certainly were boisterous like fans are, but there was nothing personal said towards the officials … I don’t know what the protocol is, but there was no warning or anything. He just asked us to leave.”
Our “friends” over at Duke Basketball Report chime in (DukeBasketballReport.com):
Is it any wonder that many Wolfpack fans are freaking out â€“ screaming about officiating conspiracies and demanding that the ACC is out to get them? Two decades of basketball frustration have been unleashed, culminating with a petition drive demanding that the administration get out of an ACC dominated by Commissioner John Swofford, a former UNC football player and official who showed his true colors when he went to Indianapolis to support UNCâ€™s appeal of its nine major NCAA infractions.
(Just to be clear, Swofford never attended a Committee on Infractions hearing for any other ACC school during his tenure as commissioner. And he didnâ€™t object when a UNC athletic official explained his presence by noting, â€œHeâ€™s a Tar Heel.â€).
Itâ€™s interesting that N.C. State shot 10 more free throws than Florida State Saturday. The gap was even bigger in the first half when the Seminoles built their big lead and put the game away.
Thatâ€™s what makes the ejection of Gugliotta and Corchiani so strange.
Did they think Karl Hess was the reason that State trailed by 20 points in the second half? Or were they merely venting their frustration over the way the game was going?
Still, unless I hear that the two former players where threatening or disruptive or even obscene â€“ and the early evidence seems to be that they werenâ€™t â€“ I canâ€™t understand why Hess had them ejected.
Iâ€™ve covered ACC basketball for more than 40 years and sitting on press row between the fans and the court, Iâ€™ve heard a lot of insults directed at the officials. With a couple of exceptions (thrown objects are grounds for ejection â€¦ physical threats are certainly worthy of ejection â€¦ and while I may be an old fogey, I can even see excessive profanity getting you tossed) insults hurled at an official are part of the game.
I was flabbergasted Saturday night to hear Jay Bilas defend the ejections, I think â€“ his logic wasnâ€™t clear â€“ because they were two prominent former players. Hey, Jay, you are a brilliant commentator, but youâ€™re dead wrong on this issue. If they were sitting somewhere in an official capacity â€“ at the scorerâ€™s table, on the bench or even on press row â€“ that would warrented ejection. But they were fans â€“ in the stands â€“ and they have every fanâ€™s inalienable right to second-guess an official.
Karl Hess is old enough to know better.
Iâ€™ll be interested to see if thereâ€™s any more fallout from this issue. The ACCâ€™s initial response â€“ criticizing Hess only for not following proper protocol â€“ is ludicrously inadequate. Unless there is more evidence that we have not seen, he should be suspended for his bad judgment â€“ if not retired.
Thatâ€™s an issue that State fans have a right to be upset about. And the next time Karl â€œRabbit Earsâ€ Hess appears in Cameron, I hope the Crazies offer him some cotton balls to stuff in his ears.
Think Mark Gottfried’s ESPN connections aren’t a major positive in moving this program forward? Well, it’s getting national attention, among other places, from longtime Herb lover/apologist Andy Katz, who keeps attention on the “bizzare incident” (ESPN):
Yow told ESPN.com that what occurred this weekend was embarrassing. Yow said she doesn’t believe Hess knew what was said by Corchiani and Gugliotta. She is convinced that he was angry over the student not being ejected and says she has a report from the RBC Center, as well as from game security, that will back up the claim that Gugliotta and Corchiani did nothing more than question calls.
NC State officials are convinced that Hess wouldn’t have thrown out a famous North Carolina or Duke alum. Of course we will never know that to be true and that only plays into the inferiority complex that the Pack often get painted with in the Triangle, inside the shadow of its two rivals.
Nevertheless, Yow wants to have a face-to-face meeting with ACC coordinator of officials John Clougherty in the conference office in Greensboro. Yow wants an answer and is hoping she can get one in person.
She’s not the only one.
“The more it’s discussed, the more it bothers me,” Corchiani said. “If you get pulled over by the police, the officer will tell you the reason. We got thrown out of game, at least tell us why? We did absolutely nothing. We were on Hess and the other officials for six or seven calls, no different than what I’ve done the last 20 years in going to games as a fan.”