Only six minutes remained in Florida State's convincing 76-62 victory over North Carolina State on Saturday when referee Karl Hess did something even longtime basketball fans had never seen before.
He ejected two of the greatest players in the history of N.C. State's program.
At the request of the notoriously prickly Hess, security at the RBC Center ordered former NBA forward Tom Gugliotta and former NCAA career assists record holder Chris Corchiani to vacate their courtside seats. Gugliotta and Corchiani argued with Hess for a few seconds before leaving with chants of "ref you suck" from the N.C. State student section echoing in the background.
It's unclear exactly what the two ex-N.C. State stars said to draw Hess' ire since the referee declined comment to the Associated Press after the game. Corchiani tweeted that he and Gugliotta merely told the referees they were "having a bad game" and there was "no profanity" involved.
Said Corchiani: "Karl"rabbit ears" Hess didn't like the fact Googs and I told him he was having a bad day, inconsistent, and telling the truth."
[ Yahoo! Sports Radio: Corchiani chats with Tim Brando ]
When fans get ejected from a game, it's usually because they instigate a fight, throw objects onto the playing surface or create a disturbance by cussing or threatening a referee or member of the opposing team. If indeed neither Corchiani nor Gugliotta did any of those things, then Hess' actions were way out of line.
N.C. State athletic director Debbie Yow issued a statement Saturday night that suggested she wasn't at all pleased by the removal of her school's two former stars.
"Throughout this afternoon and evening, I have been seeking clarification from the ACC office regarding the reason for the ejection of two fans today during our men's basketball game against Florida State," Yow said. "I have spoken to commissioner John Swofford and Karl Hicks, associate commissioner for basketball operations, regarding our concerns and our need for clarification as to why this occurred. We expect fair treatment of our fans at State athletic events."
What's most odd about the incident is that the boxscore doesn't suggest the calls tilted in Florida State's favor. The host Wolfpack shot 10 more free throws than the Seminoles, not that it helped them remain competitive in a game that they trailed by double figures the entire second half.
Lost in the controversy surrounding the ejection of Gugliotta and Corchiani is that N.C. State's NCAA tournament hopes grow dimmer with every loss.
Back-to-back losses to Duke and Florida State leave the Wolfpack still in search of a win against any of the ACC's four Top 25 teams. Unless N.C. State beats rival North Carolina on Tuesday night, it's difficult to see the Wolfpack remaining in the at-large hunt.
(Thanks, Eye on College Basketball)
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