The 2020 Marshall Thundering Herd at East Carolina Pirates football game has been moved from Week Zero to Saturday, Sept. 12, both schools have announced.
The game was originally scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 5, but was later moved to Week Zero (Saturday, Aug. 29). The move to Week Zero was approved by the NCAA and was done so in order to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the air tragedy that claimed the lives of 70 passengers and five crew members that were returning to Huntington, W.V., from a football game at East Carolina on Nov. 14, 1970.
Among the individuals that lost their lives that day were 37 Marshall University football players, eight members of the coaching staff, 25 boosters, and five flight personnel.
The deadliest accident to affect a United States sports team in history was chronicled in the movie We Are Marshall, which starred Matthew McConaughey as Marshall head coach Jack Lengyel. Lengyel was hired to replace head coach Rick Tolley, who died in the crash.
The 2020 matchup between the Pirates and Thundering Herd will be played at ECU’s Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium in Greenville, N.C.
“We are grateful to (Athletic Director) Jon Gilbert and everyone at East Carolina University for their efforts in making sure this game stayed on the schedule due to the tremendous significance for both institutions,” said Mike Hamrick, Director of Athletics at Marshall. “Our people, our universities and our football programs will forever be linked by the tragedy that occurred 50 years ago.”
Marshall and East Carolina first met on the gridiron in 1967 and have played 15 times overall. In their most recent matchup in 2013, Marshall defeated East Carolina 59-28, but the Pirates still lead the series 10-5.
“I appreciate Mike Hamrick and Marshall for working with us to move the game,” ECU Athletics Director Jon Gilbert said. “We continue to work with university, local and state health officials for guidance on fans in attendance. We will communicate with Pirate Nation in a timely manner when more information becomes available.”
The 2020 contest is the first of a four game, home-and-home series. Remaining games are scheduled for 2021 in Huntington, 2023 in Greenville, and 2025 in Huntington.