HUNTINGTON — Marshall’s Sept. 12 contest at East Carolina has been postponed due to concerns with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, according to East Carolina athletic director Jon Gilbert.
Both Gilbert and Marshall athletic director Mike Hamrick are working toward rescheduling the game in 2020 at a later date.
“We are disappointed that 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 release. “Mike Hamrick and Marshall have been tremendous to work with as we work to reschedule the game.”
It continues a trend of uncertainty toward the meeting of Marshall and East Carolina in what was deemed to be a commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the 1970 Marshall plane crash, which occurred when the Herd was traveling back from Greenville, North Carolina, following a 17-14 loss to the Pirates at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
The schools were originally scheduled to meet on Sept. 5, according to the original contract, but Gilbert and Hamrick had a request granted by the NCAA in February to move the game to Aug. 29.
The game was later moved to Sept. 12 for safety reasons and seemed on schedule to be played at that time.
Recently, however, East Carolina was forced to suspend its football activities due to positive tests within the program and missed practice time.
The state of North Carolina is still currently in Phase 2 of its reopening plan and with recent issue at the state’s colleges, it is uncertain if the state will move forward on Sept. 11 as previously scheduled.
Currently, Phase 2 also does not allow for entertainment venues to be opened, which would mean no fans for the game, if it was played on Sept. 12.
Gilbert said in the release that East Carolina still anticipates having fans in the stadium for games in 2020 and that the school would continue to work with local and state officials to determine capacity.
With the announcement, ECU’s new season-opener is a Sept. 26 contest against UCF as the opener in American Athletic Conference play.
That Sept. 26 date is Marshall’s lone open week in its current schedule until the end of the season when the Herd was scheduled to play Old Dominion (Nov. 28).
East Carolina hosts SMU in an American Athletic Conference game that day.
For now, Marshall’s schedule is now down to nine games. However, six of those games will take place in Huntington.
That slate starts with the Sept. 5 matchup against Eastern Kentucky, followed by a Sept. 19 home date with Appalachian State. Marshall would then open Conference USA action on Oct. 3 at home against Rice.