It’s not uncommon to hear complaints that college sports have become too much like a business, with a similar focus on the bottom line of wins, losses and making money. Such laments often bring a yearning for the good old days — a time when college sports were were about nothing more than friendly competition, school pride and the values of teamwork.
But how far back does one have go back to find such good old days?
On this day in 1951 — more than 60 years ago — a front-page article in the Technician spoke to concerns then that college sports were becoming big business. The reason for the concern was the money that NC State was spending on college athletics — $417,799 was the athletics budget for 1950-51.
“When the half-million mark is reached, sports becomes big business,” read the article. “As such, intercollegiate sports at State have brought with them intricate problems of finance. There has been considerable discussion in the nation’s press about the profit-loss relationship of sports.”
The story broke down how the money was being spent at State, with basketball getting $174,490 and football getting $132,370. A total of $79,200 was paid in salaries.
“In this day of $20.00 shoulder pads and $19 football shoes, it is not surprising that the cost of the sports are so high,” read the article. “However, the most significant factor in the cost is the growth in the size of the teams.”
The story noted that the football team had grown from 20 members in 1930-31 to 90 players in 1950. The basketball team had grown from 15 players to 35 over the same time period. The number of scholarships in the two sports had grown from eight to 88.
The concern seemed to be less about the amount of money being spent, but in making sure that it was accounted for properly. The story noted that the only auditing of athletic expenditures had been done at the end of seasons, but that the Athletic Council had adopted a policy to audit the spending after each game. It was hoped that more frequent audits would give the university better control over costs associated with athletics.
“The new control is not expected to raise the profit side of the picture, but through its more analytical aspects it is expected that a good deal of money will be saved,” read the story.
With his creation of tournament basketball in the South, the freight-train speed of his fast break or his gimmicks like the applause meter inside of Reynolds Colisuem, Everett Case changed the game of basketball at both ends, and off of the court.
It turns out those innovations stretched even to Hollywood. Case was known for having his games and practices recorded, and those tapes were used for him to grow the sport and to teach others about his unique view of the game.
And it was on this day in 1950 that The Technician reported that NC State games would be recorded in Technicolor for the first time. While most of the games would be recorded in black and white that 1950-51 season, the matchups with the other teams of the Big Four — Duke, Wake Forest and UNC — got the innovative rainbow treatment on film.
The Technician reported that it was Reynolds’ state-of-the-art lighting facilities that allowed for Technicolor filming for Wolfpack games for the first time.
“Requests from all over the United States and from overseas occupation units have been placed for the films,” read The Technician article. “Uncle Sam appears to have taken a special interest in them. The American command in Munich, Germany wishes to use the movies to aid in their athletics program. …High school basketball teams in every section of the country are studying the offensive and defensive plays of the Wolfpack by the means of these films.”
We hope you enjoyed the many different Wolf Dens that we featured in the recent issue of NC State magazine. From the Wolfpack museum that Rod Essick has created in his home in Harrisburg, N.C., to the Pack House that Grey Blackwell and his family have made in Oxford, N.C., we tried to capture the wide range of Wolfpack spaces that NC State alumni have created in their homes.
We had so many photos, though, that we couldn’t fit them all in the magazine. So we created a page on the Alumni Association’s website where you can see the additional photos taken by Durham photographer Ted Richardson. (There’s a sampling below to give you a feel for some of the photos.)
But we also also know that there are a lot more Wolf Dens out there that we didn’t photograph. We would love for you to share photos of your favorite Wolfpack space – be it your den, basement or bedroom. Visit our Wolf Dens page, and submit your photos of your red-and-white space. Go Pack!
It is one of the most enduring records in the NFL — the 63-yard field goal kicked by Tom Dempsey to give the New Orleans Saints an improbable last-second victory over the Detroit Lions on this date in 1970. It was the longest field goal ever in the NFL, easily breaking the old record of 56 yards. Three other kickers have since equaled the mark, but the record still stands after nearly 45 years.
But while Dempsey’s name is forever etched in the history books, he couldn’t have done it without the help of a former NC State football player. Joe Scarpati, who played for the Wolfpack in the early 1960s, was the holder on the record-setting kick.
“Thank God, I held that ball,” Scarpati says. “Otherwise, they would have forgotten about me long ago.”
Scarpati at NC State
Scarpati is 70 years old now. He lives in Marlton, New Jersey, where he has a commercial real estate business. He has managed to stay in touch with Dempsey through the years, joining him a couple of years ago to sign autographs at a sports memorabilia show in Chicago. Dempsey, who lives in New Orleans, recently revealed that he has been diagnosed with dementia.
At NC State, Scarpati was part of the famous backfield, known as “The Mafia,” that led the Wolfpack to the ACC championship in 1964. He was joined in the backfield by fellow northerners Pete Falzarano, Jim Rossi and Tony Koszarsky. “Anytime you got more than two Italians in one group, they would say it was ‘The Syndicate,’” Scrapati says with a laugh.
There was a bit of culture shock that came with Scarpati’s move to the South. “We were made aware that they were still fighting the Civil War, but other than that it worked out fine,” he recalls.
Despite his success as a college player, Scarpati never had his heart set on a professional career, figuring he would be too small or too slow to play in the NFL. But he played in the NFL for eight seasons, the first seven of them with the Philadelphia Eagles. He was a safety, and led the NFL in 1966 by returning eight interceptions for 182 yards.
But he also was used as a holder on extra points and field goals, something he had not done at NC State. But the safety he replaced in Philadelphia had those duties, so they became one of Scarpati’s duties as well.
“It was difficult to develop the skills, to catch the ball, rotate the laces, get to the spot where the kicker wants it,” he says. “It’s a thankless job. You don’t get any extra money for it.”
But Scarpati was clearly good at it, for he was the holder throughout his years with the Eagles. When he was traded to the Saints, the position of holder was open again. And so Scarpati found himself working with Dempsey, who kicked with a modified, flattened shoe because he was born without toes on his right foot. Some questioned whether the special shoe gave Dempsey an unfair advantage, but Scarpati said it was remarkable that Dempsey was able to achieve so much with his disability.
Like other kickers, Dempsey let Scarpati know exactly how he wanted the ball placed for each kick. He wanted it tilted ever so slightly back with the laces in front. Scarpati would try to find a piece of lint or blade of grass that he could furtively use to mark the spot where he would place the ball. (The rules did not allow holders to mark the spot). “He was easy to work with as long as you put it on the spot where you said you were going to put it,” Scarpati says. “His whole kicking rhythm was based on you putting it on that spot.”
The record-setting kick against Detroit was a desperate attempt to get a win. The Saints were 1-5-1 coming into the game, and the team’s head coach had been fired the week before.
Detroit kicked a late field goal to go ahead 17-16, and it looked like the Saints would lose yet another game. But after returning the kickoff, the Saints had time to throw one pass and get out of bounds to stop the clock with two seconds remaining in the game. The ball was on the Saints’ 45-yard-line when Dempsey came in to attempt the field goal that would win the game.
Scarpati holds for Dempsey.
Holders typically set up seven yards behind the ball for field goal attempts. But Scarpati set up eight yards back, figuring Dempsey would need to kick the ball at a lower trajectory to cover the distance. “I wanted to give it more time to get over the line of scrimmage,” Scarpati says. “If he drove it at seven yards, it may have hit someone in the back of the helmet.”
As Dempsey set up for the kick, CBS broadcaster Don Criqui told the television audience that the kick would set an NFL record if it was good. But Scarpati says it never occurred to him that they were attempting to set an NFL record.
“With two seconds go to in the game, we didn’t really have time to think about it,” he says. “We just needed to get on the field.”
As Dempsey lined up for the kick, Criqui told the viewers that he had a very slight wind at his back. But it was obvious, as soon as Dempsey kicked it, that the ball had a chance.
“I don’t believe this,” Criqui said as the ball sailed down the field. The referees signaled it was good as it barely cleared the crossbar on the goal post.
“IT’S GOOD!” Criqui shouted. “I don’t believe it. The field-goal attempt was good, from 63 yards away. It’s incredible! Tulane Stadium has gone wild. A 63-yard field goal!”
Scarpati says the initial excitement on the field was because the Saints had won, not because Dempsey had set a record. It was only when they got to the locker room that the players realized that Dempsey had made NFL history.
“The record, it was so special for him,” Scarpati says. “He was a handicapped fellow, so for him to reach that goal, to get that record, that was what made it great.”
Dempsey and some teammates apparently celebrated late into the night after the game, but Scarpati says he didn’t join them because he had family in town for the game.
Given the advances in kicking since Dempsey played, Scarpati says it is a little surprising that no one has broken the record after all these years. But, he notes, there aren’t many circumstances when an NFL coach would be willing to attempt such a long kick.
“You don’t try it that often,” he says. “That’s why it’s lasted this long.”
NC State’s football team had reason for optimism as its game against Duke approached in 1963. The Wolfpack was already 4-1, with victories over the likes of Maryland, Clemson and South Carolina.
But there were also plenty of reasons for concern — 16 of them, in fact. That’s how many years in a row NC State had tried, and failed, to beat Duke (there were two ties during that span). The last time NC State had beaten Duke was 1946, 17 years earlier.
But on this day in 1963, the Wolfpack finally came out on top. And the Pack did it in decisive fashion, winning 21-7 to tie its largest margin of victory ever against Duke up to that point.
“DOOK DRUBBED: State Gives Devils Hell After Seventeen Years,” read the headline at the top of the front page of the Technician.
The win was led by a backfield known as “The Mafia” (which was later chosen by BleacherReport.com as one of the 12 greatest college football nicknames of all time) that included Tony Koszarsky, Jim Rossi and Joe Scarpati.
Koszarsky scored the game’s first touchdown following a 55-yard run by halfback Mike Clark. Rossi set up the second touchdown with a 55-yard run of his own to the Duke 29-yard line, and then threw a touchdown pass to Scarpati three plays later.
Duke, which had been stymied by what the Agromeck described as “State’s fierce defense,” crawled back into the game with a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
But NC State’s Don Montgomery sealed the win when he intercepted a Duke lateral just 10 yards from the goal line and ran it in for a touchdown.
The win was a relief for the team and its fans. A cartoon wolf in the Technician sporting a shirt with the final score, 21-7, said what many State fans may have felt: “I simply can’t believe it.”
Presumably, they believed by the end of the season. The Wolfpack went 6-1 in conference play that year (8-3 overall) and were co-champions of the ACC.
Tony Koszarsky, Jim Rossi and Joe Scarpati (front row), Pete Falzarano (back row, center)
Fans of the Seattle Seahawks made waves last week at CenturyLink Field when they helped set the Guinness World Record for the loudest stadium, reaching a level of 136. 6 decibels.
But such competitions measuring the clamoring and passion of fans have been around for a long time in sports. And on this day 60 years ago, Wolfpack fans gathered at Reynolds Coliseum took on UNC fans, who were rallying in Chapel Hill, in the epic State-Carolina cheer battle of 1953.
WPTF Radio aided in the contest, providing the hook-up between schools and recording the competition for a broadcast to an estimated 50,000 people. Each fan base was allotted two seven-minute periods in which their yelps, barks, shouts and screams were broadcast to the other group.
Though billed as a contest — we could find no actual claimed victor –the event was primarily used as a way to celebrate Consolidated University Day and to introduce Carey Bostian, the newly elected chancellor of NC State.
The Wolfpack has lost a dear friend and one of its most ardent supporters, as Frank Weedon, a former NC State senior associate director of athletics, has died.
Weedon, a native of Washington, D.C., held several posts in the athletics department and did just about anything imaginable to help Wolfpack athletics flourish.
After graduating from the University of Maryland and serving for three years in the U.S. Army, Weedon joined NC State in 1960 as the department’s sports information director, a post he held for 12 years. He became an assistant athletics director and then a senior athletics director in an administrative career that spanned 23 years.
He was a fixture at NC State sporting events. He was the mind behind listing NC State basketball legend Tommy Burleson’s height at 7-foot-4, making him more of a headline as the tallest player in the country, even though Burleson was closer to 7-foot-2. He was the one who suggested Kay Yow’s name when Willis Casey wanted to hire the first woman to coach in women’s athletics at NC State. Weedon once even collected a technical foul at a Wolfpack basketball game. And he created the Wolfpack Radio Network so fans across the state could tune in to listen to games.
Even though he retired from the university in 1995, Weedon remained heavily involved in athletics. He became the keeper of Wolfpack sports history, gathering memorabilia for the Hall of Champions inside the Murphy Center.
Weedon, who was 82, had been declining in health in recent years, the News & Observer reported today.
New NC State women’s basketball coach Wes Moore announced in July that Rachel Stockdale was joining his staff as the director of high school relations. Stockdale played for the Wolfpack from 2002 to 2006, and returns to NC State after spending the past six years as an assistant at Wake Forest, Elon and East Carolina.
The fall issue of NC State magazine will include a profile of Moore and how he’s preparing his first squad at NC State for the 2013-14 season. In the meantime, we talked with Stockdale about what brought her back to NC State, what her role and responsibilities will be with the women’s basketball program and what she learned from Coach Kay Yow.
How did you end back up at NC State? I loved coaching at East Carolina, but I was in a situation where I didn’t know what path I wanted to take. After graduating from NC State, I completed a yearlong marketing internship with Fox Sports in Florida, and I loved it. So I was thinking about moving back to marketing when Coach Moore and I had a conversation about this new position as director of high school relations. The job is a perfect fit for what I was envisioning as I transition out of coaching. It’ll allow me to still be part of a women’s basketball program, but it’s more of a marketing angle and there are some things I can bring to the table. It was a no-brainer. I love Raleigh. I love NC State. And there’s something about Wolfpack Nation that is very exciting. It’s like coming home.
What will be your role? Coach Moore has stressed the importance of getting to know the high school coaches in North Carolina. I grew up in Winston-Salem, I played high school and AAU ball in the state, and I’ve been coaching in the state for the past six years. I have a pretty good foundation and a lot of relationships already built; it’s just a matter of getting the coaches connected to Coach Moore and the rest of the coaching staff. I’m also trying to get those high school coaches on campus and excited about NC State and the national program we’re building. Outside of that, when recruits are here, I’ll be organizing and coordinating visits with the coaching staff. I’m very detailed and organized, so it plays to one of my strengths.
Will you miss coaching and recruiting? I don’t think people grasp the time that goes into coaching. People think it’s seasonal. But there are a lot of hours that go into it throughout the year, especially from a recruiting standpoint. I’m at a point now that this new position fits perfectly with where I wanted to go. But just because I’m stepping away from having a whistle around my neck, that doesn’t mean I want to be on an island by myself. I still want to be as involved as I can be within the NCAA rules and as much as Coach Moore wants me to be.
How will you be involved with the players? Though I’m taking on a different role here, I still want to be a mentor and help these young women as they face adversity.
Who were your mentors? I had one of the best mentors, Coach Yow. Obviously, she was in an incredible coach, but she taught more about life than anything and that is what has carried through at the places I’ve coached and as I’ve been a mentor. It was from her I learned the importance of how you approach different obstacles and handle adversity. That’s what I hope to instill in these young ladies. The transition to college is tough, and kids go through a lot, but it’s a different journey for every person. You’ve got to take time to get to know each and every individual. What you say to one kid may not be what you say to another kid.
—Cherry Crayton ’01, ’03 MED
It took more than two decades and numerous attempts that fell short, but faculty members at NC State finally got the news they had been seeking on this day in 1994 — NC State was getting its own chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.
Faculty members had tried repeatedly to get a chapter of the prestigious academic honor society on campus, but the university’s bids kept falling short. The primary problem, apparently, was with athletics at NC State.
“The bid was cut short in 1985 due to concerns about the number of student athletes who did not graduate,” read a story in the Aug. 24, 1994, edition of the Technician. The story went on to say, “NCSU’s reputation suffered greatly in 1989 when the NCAA put the basketball team on probation for two years and forbid the Wolfpack team to play in the post-season tournament.”
But on this day in 1994, the dream finally came true. NC State received 239 votes from the society’s national governing board, more than the two-thirds needed for acceptance into Phi Beta Kappa.
“We never had any problem [with the governing board] realizing that we had a quality liberal arts program,” Charles Moreland, co-chairman of the university’s Phi Beta Kappa bid, said at the time. “This time the reviewers were convinced that we had overcome our athletics problem.”
The following year, 162 NC State students became the first members inducted into the university’s Phi Beta Kappa chapter. “I think it’s really exciting that I’m one of the first students inducted into Phi Beta Kappa,” Jennifer Balkcum, a senior in zoology and pre-veterinary medicine, said at the time. “I think it says a lot about State’s reputation, and will put us at an advantage to other schools who don’t have it.”
Then-Chancellor Larry Monteith, speaking at the induction ceremony at the McKimmon Center, was clearly pleased to have Phi Beta Kappa on campus. ”NC State students have always been among the best,” he said. “This is just another way to recognize that achievement.”
Wolfpack fans anxiously await the start of college football to see what Dave Doeren will do for the program in 2013.
But former NC State quarterback Mike Glennon has turned his attention to his new team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It’s a team, in fact, he was a little shocked to be a part of at first, with the Bucs having an established starter in Josh Freeman.
(Photo courtesy of Matt May/Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
“I was a little surprised when Tampa took me because I hadn’t talked to them as much as other teams,” Glennon said in an interview before leaving for the Bucs’ training camp in July. “I have a chance to compete. Whether I’m the starter, that’s up to the coaches. I will look to help out any way possible.”
Glennon is now in his fourth week, preparing for playing time he might get tonight in Tampa Bay’s first preseason game, at home against the Super Bowl champions Baltimore Ravens. Glennon said he anticipates the speed of the game to be unlike anything he’s ever seen.
“Just learning a new offense means a lot more thinking’s involved,” he said. “But I understand football and am able to pick up things pretty quick. It’s really about the execution part. I’m about taking it from the meeting room and onto the field.”
Some might think Glennon’s relationship with Russell Wilson, who started in front of Glennon before he left the program and played his final year of eligibility out at Wisconsin, is a bit frosty. But Glennon says the two were always friendly. And Wilson, who is coming off one of the more memorable rookie campaigns in recent memory as the quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks, offered advice to Glennon right after he was drafted in April.
“I called him about two weeks after I got drafted,” Glennon says. “I asked him about what he did. He was as friendly as ever and offered me some specific advice. He just kind of said it’s going to be a lot to learn and that the playbook will come around. He said to be a good teammate.”