ACC notes: Reprimanded ref absent, but not forgotten

Veteran referee Karl Hess, reprimanded by the ACC after ejecting two former N.C. State players from an arena last month, is not working the league tournament for the first time in years.

But the three officials who worked the tournament’s opening game at Philips Arena on Thursday afternoon paid an apparent tribute to Hess by wearing a piece of white tape with the initials “KH” on the sides of their left shoes.

Hess was invited to work the tournament, but declined because he “wanted to make sure that he did not take away from the tournament, its teams and the players,” ACC supervisor of officials John Clougherty said in a statement released Thursday. “Therefore, he made the decision not to participate this year.

“The officials, as a group, have agreed to respect Karl’s decision and will eliminate any further distraction from the tournament.”

The officials who worked Thursday’s second game did not wear a tribute to Hess.

During N.C. State’s loss to Florida State on Feb. 18 in Raleigh, Hess ejected former Wolfpack players Tom Gugliotta and Chris Corchiani from their courtside seats. Hess later said the former N.C. State stars had “incited the crowd” with “excessive demonstration.”

The ACC publicly reprimanded Hess for not following proper protocol in handling the ejections.

Hess has worked nine ACC championship games and five Final Fours. He is working the Big East tournament in New York this week.

Ticket update

The ACC announced Thursday’s attendance at Philips Arena as a capacity-plus 19,520, although there were many empty seats for the first-round games.

The announced attendance figure reflected tickets distributed, including at least 200 that the ACC says schools are still trying to sell.

The league’s top two draws, No. 1-seed North Carolina and No. 2-seed Duke, open tournament play Friday.

New format coming

The ACC still doesn’t know when Syracuse and Pittsburgh will begin play in the league, but it knows a new tournament format will be needed at that time.

The addition of Syracuse and Pitt will give the ACC 14 members, and the league doesn’t intend to exclude any of them from the conference tournament.

“The sentiment around the league is all 14 should be there,” ACC commissioner John Swofford said. “We have a subcommittee put together that is in the process” of looking at possible formats for a five-day tournament.

Swofford expects the issue to be discussed at the ACC’s spring meetings.

Syracuse and Pitt will remain in the Big East through at least the 2012-13 school year. Beyond that, Swofford said the ACC will be ready for them whenever they work out their departure from the Big East.

Etc.

Thursday’s opening-round loss dropped Wake Forest to 0-6 in ACC tournament games played in Atlanta, dating to 1983. ... Duke has won the past two ACC tournaments played in Atlanta (2001 and 2009, both at the Georgia Dome). ... The Blue Devils have won nine consecutive ACC tournament games and are 35-4 in the tourney since 1998. ... Entering Thursday night’s late game, Georgia Tech was 3-7 at Philips Arena this season. ... N.C. State forward Scott Wood, who was 4-for-28 from the field during a four-game losing streak last month, is 17-for-34 in his team’s current three-game win streak.

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