Karl Hess, the referee who gained national infamy for ejecting two N.C. State legends from the stands of a February game, declined to work this week's ACC tournament. His colleagues are making sure he's not forgotten.
Jamie Lucky, Mike Eades and Bernie Clinton, the three officials who worked the tournament's opening game between Maryland and Wake Forest, paid tribute to Hess by wearing a piece of white tape on their black shoes with the initials "KH" written on it. It was a tribute to Hess, who reportedly rejected an offer to work this year's tournament.
Hess ejected former Wolfpack stars Chris Corchiani and Tom Gugliotta late during a Feb. 18 game against Florida State. The ref said the pair were inciting the crowd with "excessive demonstration." Some claimed Hess was too quick to eject the former players. Others insist he was within his right to remove unruly fans.
The ACC didn't suspend Hess for the incident but removed him from his next assignment working an N.C. State game. When he was asked to work the ACC tournament, he declined. Hess will ref at the Big East tournament instead, according to J.P. Giglio of the News and Observer.
As Giglio notes, Hess has worked nine ACC tournament finals and three Final Fours.
Solidarity is always appreciated, but refs are supposed to exude a sense of impartiality. Though Lucky, Eades and Clinton weren't working an N.C. State game, they've contributed to a sense that all refs are against State. The action isn't as bad as the implication.
Can the ACC let any of those men work an N.C. State game the rest of the tournament? How will Wolfpack fans feel when a call goes against their team during Thursday's tournament game against Boston College? And can you imagine if a ref in the NBA or NFL pulled such a stunt?
Giglio later reported that officials working the second game were told to remove their stickers.
Karl Hess said he didn't want to be a distraction at the ACC tournament. In absentia, he became one.
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