It had been four years since Jim Valvano had led NC State to the ’83 national championship in basketball, but his name and coaching prowess still resonated, stretching even as far north as New York City.
Valvano had spent the summer months during 1987 flirting with the NBA, specifically with the New York Knicks. He was one of five candidates, along with University of Kansas Head Coach Larry Brown and Providence College Head Coach Rick Pitino, that the Knicks were reportedly considering making their head coach, according to the Technician.
But it was on this day 27 years ago that Valvano closed the door on the New York courtship and pledged to stay with the Wolfpack.
Illustration courtesy of NCSU Libraries.
“At this time, I would like to state that I am definitely remaining at NC State University,” Valvano announced. “My family and I are extremely happy at NC State, and I look forward to the challenges ahead. I have the utmost respect for the New York Knicks and their management. I will always remain a Knicks fan, and I wish them the best of luck.”
The New York native admitted he had met with the Knicks but had never been formally offered a job.
“I love NC State. I’m excited about the future — of what we can become,” he said.
The Knicks eventually hired Pitino, now the head coach of ACC foe Louisville.
When Willis Casey was hired by NC State to coach its swim team, it began a period of dominance for Wolfpack athletics in which Casey won 16 Southern Conference and ACC titles. He gave up coaching duties and became athletics director in 1969, a post he held for 17 years.
But it was on this day 28 years ago that Casey eschewed any farewell speeches or tearful goodbyes for just a “regular” day that would mark the end of his tenure at NC State and the beginning of his retirement.
“[Casey] just said a few good-byes to his department colleagues and added just a touch of uncharacteristic flamboyancy for a local television station by kissing golf coach Richard Sykes on the cheek,” the Technician reported, adding that Casey’s legacy at NC State was “unsurpassed in Wolfpack Athletic Department history.”
Apart from the swimming dynasty he built as a coach, Casey is credited with turning around an athletics program in the red as athletics director. According to the Technician, he took over a program that was more than $100,000 in debt, in part because of Carter-Finley Stadium’s construction. He also bolstered women’s sports at NC State, hiring Kay Yow as women’s basketball coach. And he also hired Lou Holtz and Jim Valvano, who succeeded Casey as AD.
“The picture most people have of me is I’m a mean son-of-a-gun,” Casey told the Technician his last day on the job. “But I’m really just a teddy bear underneath it all.”
Tommy Burleson was a first-team All-ACC performer after his sophomore year in 1972, but that summer, the 7-foot-4 center took his talents national as he was picked to be on the 12-man Olympic team by head coach Henry Iba.
The pick on this day 34 years ago came after two weeks of Olympic trials at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. Burleson was one of three rising juniors that year to be named to the team, according to the Technician.
Norm Sloan, Burleson’s coach at NC State, visited the trials and said the experience gave the center a chance to see for himself just how good he was. “Tom didn’t appreciate how good he was on a national level until these trials,” Sloan said. “This was a good experience for him.”
“I really wanted to make it and I couldn’t sleep the night before the naming of the team on Sunday afternoon,” Burleson said in the Technician. “It is the greatest honor ever bestowed upon me. It meant so much to me and I tried to do everything it took to make it. Not only on the court, but all the little things required. Coach Iba told us it was as tough mentally as it was physically playing in the Olympics and that was why we had such a rigorous training program.”
The ’72 Olympics in Munich that September became forever linked to the massacre by terrorists of eleven athletes from Israel.
The games were also marred by a controversial finish to the men’s basketball final, in which the U.S. team lost to the Soviet team in a game it had initially won. Burleson and his teammates never collected their silver medals.
Burleson recounted the experience for a feature story in NC State magazine in summer 2012.
Winning one of golf’s four sought-after majors each year can be a life-changing event for a PGA professional, sometimes taking an unknown to folk-hero status or simply adding one more piece of hardware to an already-great’s mantle. Members of a golfer’s family also feel the effects of that winning — or not winning.
Such was the case for Carl Pettersson‘s two children in August 2012 at the PGA Championship in Kiawah Island, S.C. Pettersson had held the lead after the first round and a share of the lead after 36 holes. But on Sunday, he couldn’t catch Rory McIlroy, who went on to win the championship by eight strokes. Pettersson, who graduated from NC State in 2000, finished tied for third, his best finish at a major during his 12-year career on the PGA Tour.
“We told our kids if Carl ever won a major, we’d get them a dog,” says DeAnna Pettersson, Carl’s wife and herself an NC State alumna. “So at the PGA, they were like, ‘Come on, Dad.’”
It’s not often that you get to hear stories of the golfers away from the course. But DeAnna Pettersson, along with other wives who belong to the PGA Tour Wives Association, have now pulled back the ropes, so to speak, and have offered readers a glimpse of PGA professionals at home with their families in the book Beyond the Fairways and Greens: A Look Inside the Lives of PGA Tour Families.
The book features 132 golfing families, from Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player to some of the youngest players on tour today. And there are some recipes included in the book, as well, to offer a taste of the golfers’ homes. All the proceeds from the book go back to the PGA Tour Wives Association and then go to all the charities they donate to through the year.
Pettersson says what’s interesting to her about the book is that it helps readers understand that PGA golfers and their families are like other families trying to juggle professional and private worlds. “Most people think it’s an extremely glamorous life, going to what oftentimes is a resort property,” she says. “But it’s a work week. We’re doing the exact same thing on the road. The laundry. The kids still have to go to school. It’s a job. And it’s a wonderful job.”
She says the PGA tour makes it easy for family and professional lives to intersect, adding that there’s a kinship among golf families. “We all feel like we’re family.”
Left to right: Carlie, DeAnna, Chase and Carl.
The Petterssons first met at East Village in 2000 when they were both at NC State — Carl, a Wolfpack golfer and CHASS major studying communication, and DeAnna, a CHASS major with a focus on textiles. They dated for a couple of years after graduation while Carl played on the European Tour and commuted to London. The couple married in 2003 and settled in Raleigh, and DeAnna soon started traveling with Carl to all the PGA events. These days, she still travels with him to the almost 30 events he plays a year, and they often bring along their daughter, Carlie, who is 9, and son. Chase, who is 6.
DeAnna laughs about being married to someone who plays golf, a sport she had no involvement with until she met Carl. And she says that the she’s grown more superstitious in her 14 years with him. “The longer we’re together, the more I’m involved emotionally and physically,” she says. ”I’ve become more superstitious. I’m like ’I was chewing gum and he bogeyed. Maybe I need to get rid of the gum.’…If he’s eaten eggs with Tabasco and he has six birdies, then we’re eating eggs with Tabasco sauce the rest of the week.”
The ups and downs of the golfing life are not lost on DeAnna Pettersson, and she realizes the magic can leave the golfer’s putter on the next hole or in the next round. That’s why Carl and DeAnna finally caved two months ago and got Carlie and Chase a chocolate lab named Grace.
Maybe a victory in a major tournament will come next.
There’s no telling how much ridicule an NC State student would receive if he or she showed up on campus wearing Tar Heel blue. Especially this week, when the heated rivals take to the hardwood for the second time this ACC season.
But apparently wearing other schools’ designs was enough of a problem in 1955 that the student body president felt compelled to release a statement on the matter.
On this day in NC State history, Lloyd McForrest “Doc” Cheek, a senior in textiles from Gibsonville, N.C., asked students to make more deliberate choices in the attire they wore to campus, especially garments featuring monograms. According The Technician, Cheek argued that monograms celebrating any letter other than “the Red and White ‘S”" robbed the Wolfpack men’s monograms of their significance.
Cheek said “the men wearing our monograms have earned the privilege and these men should be accorded alone the honor of wearing monograms on Campus.”
Football and Christmas cards aren’t the only Wolfpack traditions Worth Williams shares with his family. He even incorporated NC State into his marriage proposal.
Williams met his fiancé, Haley Hendrix, in 2010 through mutual friends. They were both enthusiastic about sports and attended most football and basketball games together.
Williams’ interest in NC State football came from members of his family. His parents, Tod and Donna Williams, both attended NC State, as did his grandfather and uncles. During football season, his family has season tickets and attends every home game.
“My family’s lives revolve around football season,” Williams says.
Hendrix’s parents, Doug and Carole Hendrix, also support NC State football, although they do not go to every game. They went to their first Wolfpack football game for parents weekend, and they now go to at least one game a season.
The first time Williams’ parents met Hendrix’s parents was at a game against UNC in 2011. “Even though my dad is a Carolina fan, he was wearing all red the day they met,” Hendrix says.
Their parents have been close ever since, and Williams’ invited Hendrix’s parents to his graduation in December 2013. (Hendrix graduated in May 2013 with a master’s degree in elementary education – she now teaches first grade in Pitt County.) After the ceremony, Williams’ mother suggested taking photos at the Bell Tower before going out to dinner.
“He asked me to take some pictures with him, too,” Hendrix says. “I said ‘Hey, let’s do the Wolfpack hand thing’ and then he unzipped his gown and pulled out a box from his pocket.”
All of their immediate family, including Williams’ sister, Ellen, parents and grandparents watched the scene unfold.
“I was so surprised. I asked if he was serious,” Hendrix says. “And then I said, ‘Yes, of course!’”
The family’s dedication to football played a big role in choosing a date for the wedding. “Since the football schedule was released, we finally got to pick a date. There’s no game on October 25, so we’re getting married that day,” Hendrix says.
Besides choosing a date, Hendrix and Williams, who works for his family’s Worthington Farms, want to include a few other Wolfpack-related traditions in their wedding plans.
“We want to have a Wolfpack themed groom’s cake for the rehearsal dinner,” Hendrix says. “And obviously the Fight Song will be played at some point.”
Hendrix is also considering having red and white pom poms instead of sparklers at the wedding. The couple hopes to come up with even more Wolfpack-related things to include in their ceremony and reception.
That shouldn’t be hard considering Williams’ family has so many Wolfpack-oriented traditions already. Most gifts in his family are Wolfpack themed, as well as their Christmas ornaments and even their family photos for Christmas cards.
“We will be Wolfpack fans forever, “ Hendrix says. “And we will carry on the traditions if we start a family some day.”
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.”