Sunday, February 19, 2012

Referee Ejects Former Basketball Players Attending Game as Team Guests: About Ejecting Fans

NCAA basketball official Karl Hess has quite the legacy, both as an official and as a player at Liberty University—in 2006, Hess' number 11 jersey was retired by the Flames during a halftime ceremony that included Hess, his wife and Liberty Director of Athletics Jeff Barber.

Official Karl Hess at the NCAA Tournament
Hess is Liberty's all-time career top scorer with 2,373 points and is also the program's leader in field goals (951), free throws (471), free throw percentage (89.9%), assists (648) and is tied for first in games played (120). His 1980 Flames team won the NCCAA National Championship, as Hess earned All-Tournament and MVP Awards for his efforts.

As an official, Hess. He was crew chief for the 2007 NCAA Men's National Championship game between Florida and Ohio State and worked the Final Four in 2008 and 2009, with a Sweet Sixteen matchup in 2010. He has been invited to work the NCAA Tournament annually since 1996.

With such success comes a bounty of naysayers and hecklers; taunting and harassment.

On Saturday, Hess had finally had enough and used the powers vested in him by the NCAA Rules Book to take care of a problem situation.

In Raleigh, North Carolina to work the Florida State vs. N.C. State, Hess began receiving the traditional heckles that fans often bestow upon officials, only the source of this verbal barrage wasn't quite what one might expect.

Former N.C. State Wolfpack star players Tom Gugliotta and Chris Corchiani—who, like Hess, have had their jerseys retired by their alma mater—had taken their seats behind the scorer's table and were allegedly hurling insult after insult toward the officiating crew and Hess in particular.

When traditional heckling gave way to petty insults and abuse that crossed the line, Hess called for the disrespectful fans' removal from the facility. Moments later, stadium security arrived and escorted Gugliotta and Corchiani out of the RBC Center.

Corchiani admitted he and Gugliotta abused the referee, though clearly, he believes a fan is allowed freedom of speech at a sporting event: "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."

"We're not denying we were all over him, but I've been doing that every game I've been at since I retired," said Corchiani, who said he attends just about every N.C. State game. "That's homecourt advantage.

In that regard, kudos to Hess for taking care of business and throwing out a former player who admits his true joy in sports is yelling at referees, though Hess' ejection execution was flawed.

Corchiani's belief that heckling and hurling personal insults is part of the daily fan experience is misguided and just plain wrong, though Hess was also incorrect in directly engaging the fans himself. Officials are instructed to consult home game management to address issues with fans that extend beyond the playing court.

Per Rule 10, Section 2, Article 8 of the NCAA Basketball Rules Book, team followers such as fans and guests, shall not commit unsportsmanlike acts, such as using "language that is abusive vulgar or obscene."

The penalty for such misconduct is the consultation of home management to request the removal of the team follower(s) from the premises.

Executed properly, Hess would have spoken privately with the N.C. State game operations manager (or another representative at the scorer's table) and left the situation to that person. Instead, Hess bypassed that all-important step and created a perception issue that paints ACC officials in a negative light.

Accordingly, ACC supervisor of officials John Clougherty released the following statement:
Under Rule 10, when circumstances warrant, an official has the authority to request home game management to eject fans when the behavior, in the officials' judgement, is extreme or excessive. It's unfortunate in this instance that ACC protocol of communicating directly with the home game management was not followed, and instead, a building security officer was solicited. We will re-communicate this policy with all officials to ensure proper protocol is followed.
Put bluntly, fans need to realize (they won't) that simply attending a game doesn't give them the right to make derogatory comments toward game participants. Values of common decency should never be suspended when one passes through the turnstiles.

Unfortunately, these days, it often is.


Anonymous said...

Fans can be total jerks, especially entitled stuck up has bees with money, but c'mon Karl, you're D-1, baby! Let em whine.

Adam said...

Can't blame Hess for getting rid of these guys, but would like to see some consistency on this site. Hess dumps two fans and is applauded for doing his job while last season Bob Davidson dumps a fan and he is a joke. I understand that Davidson's reputation also brings part of that on to himself, but as noted in the article Karl "rabbit ears" Hess has been known to be a little sensitive as well.

Gil Imber said...

@Adam, Davidson's fan ejection (9/7/10)wasn't really given a seal of (dis)approval by us. My only comments in relation to the Davidson fan ejection was that it wasn't going to count for UEFL scoring purposes because it wasn't an official (box score) ejection. As for some of our readers, they're entitled to their opinions and some commenters seemed to disagree with Davidson's actions, an opinion not corroborated by the UEFL in any way.

Mom said...

You are clueless as to what really happen. The kids sitting near them were their kids. They were yelling at the refs, no more or less than other fans do at other arenas. I was there. There was no profanity Hess should pay attention to the game not the fans. Overly sensitive ref, maybe their comments hit to close to home!

Anonymous said...

I always go to games and fans around me say thing loud enough that it bothers me—I'm with my family, I don't want to be exposed to some of this kind of filth. GREAT job by the referee, they need to be doing this every game whenever an obnoxious fan disrupts the game and fan experience.

Anonymous said...

Great job by official. Fans have no real clue about the details of officiating and thats why they complain so much. Follow protocol next time.

Adam said...

@Gil, thanks, I should probably rephrase my wording. Lots of readers and posters on here in my opinion made Davidson out to be a goon for getting rid of the fan. Again, not saying that Hess shouldn't have dumped them. If they are harassing him loud enough and so much that he can't focus on doing his job he should dump them. I guess just don't see how one guy can be perceived as doing a good job when he dumps two fans as opposed to the other guy is an idiot when he dumps a fan. I do understand quality of work and reputation that each have but in these similar instances it is hard for me to separate them.

jrd said...

@Mom: I dont want to hear excuses from these two clowns. If you are a prominent person that comes to a game to abuse game officials then you are there for all the wrong reasons. Don't let the kids redirect what is important here: these two ex-players, in the opinion of the Referee that was the crew chief (R) of the game, became abusive to a point where Karl felt that they needed to be removed in order for the game to continue. That is KARL HESS'S DECISION and, since we do not know what was said,I think we must trust that this veteran official made the best decision for the welfare of the game.

Anonymous said...


I'm not even an NC State fan and all I can say is, "Have you ever been to a college basketball game"? Seriously. If you toss two guys who didn't use any profanity (read Hess' comments, as he subtly confirmed the lack of profanity), yet keep every student section in every arena in the country -- then you aren't doing your job consistently.

Karl Hess gets heckled everywhere he goes as does EVERY OTHER NCAA OFFICIAL. Nothing was different in this scenario, and that is the core issue here. He let emotion get the best of him and the ACC's reprimand for "not following protocol" is their way of saying, "Yeah, he screwed up, but we aren't telling you that".

You don't need to blindly support somebody because they are official. Have some objectivity here.

Anonymous said...

And let's not forget something here: in college basketball, the officials have the right to assess technical fouls, unlike the MLB where ejection is the only conclusion. Ejections like this *rarely* happen in the NCAA and that is the issue.

What's sad is the obvious inherent bias with the post. Choice phrases like "abused the referee" just proves that. Corchiani never said they "abused the referee", yet the blogger inferred abuse had occurred because Corchiani told Hess he was having a bad day.


Anonymous said...

I think when the ejected fans admit "we were all over him," that constitutes abuse.

Anonymous said...

Haha. No it doesn't. That constitutes heckling.

Again: if heckling a referee at an NCAA basketball game is "abuse", then you guys need to attend some more NCAA basketball games and realize that these guys get heckled on a consistent basis. That's the keyword there: consistent.

Karl Hess was not.

Here's an example: Last night during the UNC vs NCSU game, the students started a chant of: "Refs you suck". Is that considered abuse and excessive? If so, why was no technical assessed to the student section or people ejected?

Because it's a different beast when officiating a college basketball game.

jrd said...

@Anon 6:51

Clougherty "protocol" statement was not a denouncemnt of Hess having someone remove those two. He just did not follow protocol by alerting home team game manager. Thats clear cut.

The difference between me and you is that I take the word of the official at the scene rather than the ex-players who just got asked to leave. Hess felt that for in order for the game to best continue, those two spectators needed to be removed. He made that decision and put his reputation on the line by doing so. As an official I tend to side with his game management tendencies over the tweets of two whiny fans.

Anonymous said...


Fair enough. I tend to err on the side that I shouldn't have to know a referee's name, nor see it in the media.

What people don't know about Hess in that game is that he tried to get security to remove a student for yelling, "Stop staring at the dance team!"

I have zero issues with Hess tossing two guys, to be honest. I just have an issue with the way he went about doing so.

Anonymous said...

@4:53: Chants are generally blanket statements that aren't personal. "All over him" wherein specific plays and calls are listed, combined with calling the official "inconsistent" and otherwise making it personal whenever he reports or consults with the table is abusive. Don't give me "it's a different beast" - different beast than what? I'm precisely referring to this level of college basketball. As John Adams mentioned the other day, fans are kicked out by officials all the time - the only problem here is Hess took it upon himself to kick them out directly, rather than talking to management and having them do it.

Anonymous said...

2:08 PM:

Not one report has came out that has mentioned Hess being verbally abused in a 'personal' manner. Not one. Not even Hess in his statement said such a thing. Let's work on facts here, not assumptions. Being "all over him" does not infer personal attacks of a derogatory nature.

And as I said in my post (the part you chose to ignore): All Hess needed to do was be consistent with his ruling. That is: know the protocol you are expected to work within and handle it in the same manner you would any other time.

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