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    RALEIGH, N.C. - Imagine if Everett Norris Case, one of the 10 inaugural inductees into NC State’s Hall of Athletic Fame, had never come to Raleigh to coach to be the men’s basketball coach.

    No Reynolds Coliseum.

    No ACC basketball Tournament or Dixie Classic.

    No Frank McGuire or Dean Smith at UNC, Vic Bubas at Duke or Bones McKinney at Wake Forest.

    No big-time basketball in North Carolina or the South. And perhaps no C.D. Chesley and Jefferson-Pilot basketball network.

    Now, that’s scary, to say the least. Case’s influence is no doubt insurmountable. Basketball mania in this area can be credited to his arrival and his innovations after he got here.

    An Anderson, Ind., native, the “Old Grey Fox” was indeed father of basketball in North Carolina. He was not only a great coach, he was also an accomplished entrepreneur and promoter.

    From the age of 18, right after he graduated high school, Case coached basketball with such passion, it took him more than a dozen years of night classes, weekend work and summer school to finish college, taking classes at six Midwestern schools before finally getting a degree from Central Normal College in Danville, Ind. For 23 seasons, he coached in the Hoosier State and was the first of the five coaches to win four state championships (1925, 1929, 1935, 1939), while compiling an overall record of 726-75.


    He roamed the cornfields and meadows of Indiana looking for talent and many of the best players followed him. He used the same kind of system at State College when his goal was to have a basketball goal in every kid’s backyard in a state oriented towards college football.

    Case was suave and sophisticated when he arrived in Raleigh in 1946, having owned a chain of successful drive-in restaurants as well as being a guru in the stock market.

    He had his clothes tailored in New York after buying them in Chicago – bringing to Raleigh an aura of authenticity as he quickly put Wolfpack basketball on the map.

    Using his Indiana background and connections, Case recruited the best blue-chippers and turned them into fast-break warriors as his team won six consecutive Southern Conference championships.  The eastern North Carolina farmers had never seen such fast-paced precision on the hardwood.

    In 1953, State then joined the newly formed ACC and Case led his team to the first three tournament championships (1954-56) and another in 1959. He was named ACC coach of the year in 1954, ’55 and ’58.

    One of the boldest steps Case took initially was to persuade the administrators to resume construction of William Neal Reynolds Coliseum. The shell of what was to become the basketball palace of the South was halted in 1941 because of World War II.

    Case upgraded seating from 10,000 to 12,400 and the coliseum became one college basketball’s premier facilities.

    Case was instrumental in the establishment of the ACC tournament, the event which crowned the official league champion and NCAA tournament representative.  For many years, entrance into the ACC tournament was the hottest ticket in athletics.

    In addition, Case took an idea from Raleigh News & Observer sports editor Dick Herbert to establish the Dixie Classic, the nation’s premier holiday tournament.

    Each team in the annual three-day cage extravaganza during the week between Christmas and New Year’s played three times to determine first through eighth place.

    Case recruited the best college teams in the country to participate against State, North Carolina, Duke and Wake Forest. Before the Classic was abolished in 1960 because of a gambling scandal, the Wolfpack won six Classics, Carolina three, Duke and Wake Forest one each.

    Tickets were difficult to obtain and tournament basketball was the ideal activity for fans after the Christmas rush. The city of Raleigh was buzzing with visitors and attending the Dixie Classic was high on one’s social calendar.

    No team outside of the Big Four schools ever won the Dixie Classic – evidence that Case’s dream of ACC grandeur had taken root.

    The 1958 Classic included four teams ranked in the Top 10 and superstars Oscar Robertson from Cincinnati and Johnny Greene from Michigan State were sensational performers.

    During Case’s tenure from 1946-64, both the ACC Tournament and Dixie Classics were played in Reynolds Coliseum.

    His innovations included spotlight introductions of players, a superb public address system and announcer (the venerable C.A. Dillon, Jr.),  organ music and concessions like “ice cream  on a stick”.  Students served as ushers and visiting teams and officials were treated like royalty.

    Case’s teams at State went 377-134 (.737) – the best record of any Wolfpack mentor to date.  After his teams beat rival North Carolina 15 consecutive times, Tar Heel officials hired Frank McGuire from St. Johns in New York in order to join big-time college basketball.


    Case and McGuire created a fierce rivalry with comments in the press. Actually, the two were good friends, meeting every Sunday afternoon to discuss what they would tell the sportswriters to stir up emotions.

    Meanwhile, the State coach was busy off the court as well. He invited visiting coaches to stay in his well-furnished, impressive house at Cameron Village. He hired houseboys and built five apartment-style additions to house special visitors. He was known to take a cocktail or two and was a true celebrity in Raleigh.

    During his tenure at State, Case’s teams were ranked No. 1 several times and many of his players became All-Conference and All-America performers.

    Case jump-started the fanatical basketball appetite in North Carolina’s Big Four schools, forcing each of them to hire big-time coaches and to match him in facilities, recruiting and other amenities.

    That translated into Big Four dominance in the ACC and national scene. In future campaigns, it meant that other programs such as Maryland and Virginia would emerge as NCAA contenders.

    After McGuire’s UNC team went 32-0 and won the national title in 1957, producer C.D. Chesley and the Pilot Life Insurance Company established the highly-regarded ACC Television Network, regional venture which helped to publicize and solidify the best college basketball conference in America.

    With declining health, Everett Case stepped down in December 1964 and died in April 1966, distributing two-third of his estate to his sister Blanche, and the remaining third to more than 50 trusted players. He was buried atop a hill on Highway 70, a request he made prior to his death.

    “I want to be able to wave to my players on the way when they get ready to go play Duke,” he said.

    Case was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 1968 after being enshrined into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in 1964. He was elected posthumously into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1982.

    Year Overall Conf. Conf. Finish Postseason
    1946-47 26-5 11-2 1st NIT Semi-Finals
    1947-48 28-4 12-0 1st NIT Quarter-Finals
    1948-49 25-8 14-1 1st ----
    1949-50 27-6 12-2 1st NCAA Final Four
    1950-51 30-7 13-1 1st NCAA Regional 4th Place
    1951-52 24-10 12-2 2nd NCAA First Round
    1952-53 25-6 13-3 1st ----
    1953-54 26-7 5-3 4th NCAA First Round
    1954-55 28-4 12-2 1st ----
    1955-56 24-4 11-3 1st NCAA First Round
    1956-57 15-11 7-7 4th ----
    1957-58 18-6 10-4 3rd ----
    1958-59 22-4 12-2 1st ----
    1959-60 11-5 5-9 6th ----
    1960-61 16-9 8-6 4th ----
    1961-62 11-6 10-4 3rd ----
    1962-63 10-11 5-9 4th ----
    1963-64 8-11 4-10 7th ----

    By George Cox, GoPack.com

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