East Carolina game against Marshall postponed due to coronavirus pandemic

East Carolina's game against Marshall, scheduled for Sept. 12 in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, has been postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic, ECU announced Thursday.

The Pirates and Thundering Herd hope to reschedule later in 2020.

The game held special significance this year because officials at both schools had hoped to use it as a tribute to the 75 people who died almost 50 years ago in the Marshall plane crash.

"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," ECU athletic director Jon Gilbert said in a statement. "Mike Hamrick and Marshall have been tremendous to work with as we work to reschedule the game."

The game has already bounced around the college football calendar. In February, the NCAA granted both schools a waiver to play their season opener on Aug. 29 -- a week earlier than originally scheduled -- because of the historic tribute.

A chartered jet carrying the Marshall team was returning from a game at East Carolina on Nov. 14, 1970, when it crashed into a hillside two miles from the Tri-State Airport in Kenova, West Virginia. All 75 people onboard were killed in the worst disaster in American sports history.

If the teams do play this year, it will be the first time East Carolina and Marshall have played since the 2013 season. They used to compete against each other as Conference USA rivals, but ECU is now a member of the American Athletic Conference.

The Pirates will now open the 2020 season on Sept. 26 against UCF in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, according to a revised AAC schedule released Thursday. The schedule changes affect six league games. All six games will be played in the weeks in which they were originally scheduled but will move to different days within those weeks:

Houston at Memphis will be played Friday, Sept. 18 (originally scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 19)

• UCF at East Carolina will be played Saturday, Sept. 26 (originally scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 24)

• Memphis at SMU will be played Saturday, Oct. 3 (originally scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 1)

• SMU at Tulane will be played Friday, Oct. 16 (originally scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 17)

• UCF at Memphis will be played Saturday, Oct. 17 (originally scheduled for Friday, Oct. 16)

• East Carolina at Cincinnati will be played Saturday, Nov. 14 (originally scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 12)