PirateIllustrated - Jon Gilbert and Mike Houston Talk Game Changes & Covid19
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Jon Gilbert and Mike Houston Talk Game Changes & Covid19

ECU’s football game against Marshall on Sept. 12 was postponed again on Thursday. The Pirates and Thundering Herd hope to reschedule the game in 2020 at a date to be determined.

Currently the Pirates have thirty players who are in isolation or in quarantine and ECU athletic director Jon Gilbert talked about it on Thursday.

“Information continues to flow rapidly in this pandemic and we’ve tried our best to be open and transparent. It’s hard to believe how many times I’ve walked into the office thinking I was going to work on one thing and then spend the the next eight hours on something completely different.”

"We made the decision to postpone the Marshall game simple because it was in the best interest of our student athletes."

“The ongoing pandemic has taken a toll on all of us. These are difficult, frustrating and unprecedented times. Individuals, families and businesses are all being affected,” said Gilbert, “Today’s news is disappointing to me on so many levels with our students, athletes and staff but also with our community. I know and understand what this does to affect our community so I obviously I’m disappointed for that.”

Gilbert said he was impressed with the resiliency the athletes, coaches and staff.

“These are uncharted waters for all of us and we are sticking together.”

A game date has yet to be determined for the Marshall game but both ECU and Marshall are working to resolve the schedule difficulties brought on by the Covid19 crisis.

“I have had productive conversations with Mike Hamrick and we’re going to do everything we can to make that game a reality,” said ECU athletic director Jon Gilbert on Thursday.

Gilbert stated that he does expect to have fans and students in the stands if games are played but it will be a difficult process trying to work out the particulars.

“My anticipation is that we are going to play football,” said Gilbert.

The Pirates are now scheduled to open the 2020 season on Saturday, September 26 in AAC action against UCF in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium according to a revised American Athletic Conference schedule also released Thursday. The AAC also announced that East Carolina’s game at Cincinnati was moved from Nov. 12 to Nov. 14.

ECU head football coach Mike Houston met with his team in Minges Coliseum to let them know the latest in terms of the schedule and otherwise including those in isolation who attended via Zoom.

“Today’s announcement was a tough decision. The numbers are not right now where we can resume yet,” said Houston, “This pause has set us back. o a degree we are going to have to start from scratch. You were just starting to get a little bit of conditioning and with the pause now you’ve lost that. It’s not like you can start back where you left off.”

Houston would like to have his team prepared to play on Sept. 19 against UCF in the season opener, but a lot of things will have to go right to make that a reality.

“We want to play sooner than later. Obviously we have got to make sure that our kids are safe,” said Houston, “I think we can play on the 19th if we can get things under control pretty quickly but a lot of things remain to be seen.”

The safety of the athletes and staff are of the utmost concern and are at the forefront of decision making at ECU.

“At the end of the day Jon and I have been in constant conversations and our medical advisors have been talking to us constantly,” Houston said, “It was just going to end up being a situation where our student athletes were safe. I’m disappointed but at the same time I’m still motivated. The group is working hard. They’re just ready to get back out on the field.”