Jones: Amato's Passion Play is Off the Field

Wilmington Star-News Correspondent Andrew Jones presents a different side of Chuck Amato in this in-depth feature he wrote on the NC State head coach.

Wilmington Star-News: Amato's Passion Play is Off the Field

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In the beginning, charges of undisciplined play by the Wolfpack were staunchly defended by its coach. Then came the ridicule of his game-day attire of red shoes and white-rimmed sunglasses, even for night games.

But few know the reasons behind the image.

Amato wore the shoes in 2002 to honor the intensity and collective defensive effort of the Wolfpack men's basketball team. Their players wore red shoes, and he wanted to send his team a message.

State won its first nine games in 2002 and finished with a school-record 11 victories. The shoes garnered attention, so Amato kept wearing them.

And when State struggled in 2004, his eccentric look became a joke.

"If it gets another person to think about N.C. State that wouldn't have, then it's a good thing," the coach often said.

The glasses were sent by a friend, so he wore them - and lost an endorsement deal with Nike in the process.

After N.C. State dropped to 2-4 last season, Amato finally dumped the shoes and glasses. The ridicule had become too much, and the reputation went from builder of a program on the rise to a man of style but no substance.

"Chuck always does what he thinks is best for his team and his program," DeAngelis said. "He realized what was going on and decided it was time to make that change."


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