East Carolina University’s football team will not open up its season against Marshall.
ECU Athletic Director Jon Gilbert announced Thursday afternoon that the game had been postponed “due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”
"We are disappointed we won't be able to host Marshall for our season-opener, but our top priority remains the health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, staff, fans and our community," Gilbert said in a statement. "Mike Hamrick and Marshall have been tremendous to work with as we work to reschedule the game."
ECU and Marshall will attempt to reschedule the game at a later date in 2020. Football activities at ECU have been paused since Aug. 20 after multiple players tested positive for the coronavirus.
On Sunday, ECU announced it would be shifting all undergraduate classes online and asking students living in campus housing to move out of the dorms. On Tuesday, ECU said there were six positive cases in both Jones Hall and White Hall, two student housing buildings.
The Pirates will now begin their 2020 football season on Sept. 26, with a home game against the University of Central Florida, which is ranked No. 21 in the Associated Press preseason Top 25 poll.
"We anticipate having fans in the stadium in 2020 and will be implementing safety measures and COVID-19 protocols in conjunction with local health officials," Gilbert said. "This continues to be a fluid situation and we can't wait to all be together again in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium rooting on the Pirates. The support of Pirate Nation means everything to our athletic department and we continue to ask for your patience and understanding. It's imperative we continue to look out for each other and stay safe as we go through this pandemic."
Additionally, ECU’s Nov. 12 game at No. 20 Cincinnati has been pushed back to Nov. 14, according to a revised schedule released by the American Athletic Conference on Thursday.
The American is one of six Football Bowl Subdivision conferences that are set to play Division I college football this fall, joining the SEC, ACC, Big 12, Sun Belt and CUSA. While the American intends to play football this fall amid the pandemic, it has already pushed its volleyball and soccer seasons to the spring.
As of Thursday, ECU will play a nine-game regular season schedule in 2020. Rescheduling Marshall would give the Pirates a 10-game slate.
ECU finished 4-8 last season in head coach Mike Houston’s first year on the job in Greenville.