Antonelli, Purcell Elected to NC Sports Hall of Fame

Brett Friedlander

Former NC State women's basketball star Debbie Antonelli and Bobby Purcell, who for the past 29 years has served as the executive director of the Wolfpack Club, are among the 12 newest members of the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame.

The annoucement was made on Wednesday by another person with Wolfpack ties, former State associate athletic director Nora Lynn Finch, who now serves as the president of the NC Sports Hall.

Gaining entry into the state shrine along with Antonelli and Purcell are former Wake Forest and NBA basketball star Muggsy Bogues, current North Carolina football coach Mack Brown, former UNC track coach Dennis Craddock, long-time high school football team doctor Charles Kernodle, high school basketball coach Mac Morris, Major League Baseball standout Trot Nixon, UNC and NFL football star Julius Peppers, former UNC Charlotte athletic director Judy Rose, prep sportswriter Tim Stevens and Fayetteville native Donnell Woolford, who starred on the gridiron at the University of Georgia and with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Nixon, by the way, was a standout quarterback from Wilmington who had accepted a scholarship offer to play football at State before he was drafted and signed with the Boston Red Sox.

"This year’s class encompasses all fields of athletics, including professional, collegiate, high school and special achievements,” Finch said in a release announcing the new Hall of Famers. “This 57th class of inductees and their outstanding accomplishments continue to build on the rich sports heritage of North Carolina."

Playing for the Wolfpack under her maiden name Debbie Mulligan, Antonelli was a three-year starter at guard for coach Kay Yow's women's basketball teams from 1984-86, leading State to the NCAA tournament in each season. 

She earned the NC State Alumni Athletic Trophy, awarded annually to the school's outstanding senior athlete, following her senior season.

As stellar of a playing career at the Cary native enjoyed, her greatest success has come since graduation. Antonelli is one of the best and most respected basketball analysts in the business, working both men's and women's games.

bobby purcell youtube photo

Purcell, a native of Clinton, has been with State since 1981 and has served as the executive director of the Wolfpack Club since 1991.

During his tenure, he has has overseen numerous successful fundraising campaigns during his time with the Wolfpack Club. Among them are the $45.2 million Wolfpack Pride Campaign, the $50 million Goal Line Drive Campaign, the $2.6 million Batter Up Campaign, the $1.6 million Advantage Wolfpack Campaign, and the $14 million Building Futures initiative. The organization is currently conducting a $200 million Championship Commitment Campaign.

In addition to his work with the Wolfpack Club, Purcell has served as National Association of Athletic Development Directors President in 2004-2005 and was named their University Division Fund Raiser of the Year in 2007. In 2014, he was recognized with the group's Lifetime Achievement Award.

Purcell has announced that he will retire at the end of the academic year.

He, Antonelli and the other members of the 2020 Hall of Fame class will be formally inducted into the shrine at a banquet on Friday, May 1 at the Raleigh Convention Center.