Buoniconti, Citadel end 20 years of estrangement

Updated: March 19, 2006, 5:37 PM ET
Associated Press

CHARLESTON, S.C. -- For Marc Buoniconti, two decades of estrangement disappeared with the greeting.

"Marc, welcome home," Citadel Board of Visitors chairman Billy Jenkinson said.

Buoniconti returned to the Citadel, officially welcomed back to the corps more than 20 years after an on-field injury in 1985 left him paralyzed from the shoulders down.

He arrived in town Friday, met with school administrators and officials and reconnected with South Carolina's military college. Buoniconti was anxious about his reception -- he had last been at the school for the 10-year reunion of his 1988 graduating class -- but those worries evaporated in Jenkinson's words.

"I think it hit home for me that I was always hoping to come back and be part of such a great college, great people with a great history," Buoniconti said Saturday.

Buoniconti was left with a severe spinal cord injury while making a tackle against East Tennessee State. He spent a year in the hospital, then filed a negligence suit against the school, including the team doctor and trainer. The school and trainer, Andy Clawson, settled the case for $800,000.

With the help of Buoniconti's teammates, Citadel reached out to Buoniconti after the 20-year anniversary of the injury. The school's board of visitors voted to retire his jersey at an upcoming football game next fall and Buoniconti was invited to the campus this weekend.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press