Virginia Tech announced today that they will not travel to East Carolina for previously-scheduled football road games in 2019, 2023, and 2025. The Hokies are replacing the 2019 game at East Carolina with a home game against an unnamed out of state FCS opponent, giving Virginia Tech seven home games for the 2019 schedule.
Virginia Tech Director of Athletics Whit Babcock said in a teleconference, “We believe we have an opponent identified, we’re working through the contract type stuff before we can formally talk about it, but I anticipate it will be an FCS opponent.” He later noted that it will be an out-of-state FCS opponent.
Babcock admitted, “Having two [FCS opponents] on our  schedule is not ideal. Strength of schedule-wise, we go to Notre Dame next year. That’s good. But obviously two FCS opponents is not ideal.” The Hokies also host Furman in 2019, on August 31.
Babcock noted that the FCS opponent will not be a direct replacement in ECU’s scheduled September 21 slot. “The seventh home game with most likely be in October, not September. So that September 21 game will be open for an ACC opponent.”
The season ticket price, previously announced at $375, will be $400 (the same as 2018, which also had a seven-game home schedule), and a $25 concession voucher will be included for each season ticket purchased. The season ticket renewal process will be briefly suspended until the Tech Athletics Ticket Office has time to finalize details for fans.
The East Carolina home games scheduled for 2020, 2022, and 2024 are still on the schedule, but Babcock does not anticipate those games will be played. “As of now, the games to be played in Blacksburg are still on the schedule. We did not opt out of those. If East Carolina still wants to come up here and play, we would happily host them. I don’t know what they would do. I would be a little surprised. But technically no, we’re just out of the games in Greenville.”
The Hokies tried to negotiate with ECU to schedule a neutral site for 2019 in Charlotte. “We talked to ECU about playing at a neutral site to help them with the financials of losing a home game, but we were not able to come to an agreement on that.”
East Carolina canceled a visit to Virginia Tech on September 15 due to concerns over Hurricane Florence. The Pirates announced the cancellation on Twitter and their official web site before notifying the Hokies, causing a rumored rift in relations between the two schools. Observers have been anticipating that the future of the series, which included six games from 2019-2025, might be in peril.
“It had somewhat been on our mind in previous years, and obviously with the miscommunication and the situation this year, it gave us a chance to sit back and evaluate our schedule,” Babcock said. “We had played East Carolina, as you guy know, a number of years home and home. With the ODU series coming on line and some one offs against Middle Tennessee State and Marshall, just looking at it from an overall football perspective, that’s the direction we went.”
Babcock said that Virginia Tech anticipates playing Marshall in 2023 and 2024, but that nothing is finalized yet.
About scheduling FCS opponents, Babcock said, “I still value them, and we’ll play one a year from time to time. Two is not something we’ll do again, barring unforeseen circumstances. It’s good for those schools financially, it’s good for us to have home games and hopefully get a win. I tend to like in-state FCS opponents, I think that’s part of our role as an in-state institution.”
Babcock knows that the 2019 schedule, which now consists of FCS Furman, ODU, Wake Forest, Duke, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, and a second unnamed FCS opponent, is not an attractive schedule.
“We’re certainly asking for the loyalty and generosity from Hokies for that [$400] price. I know it’s up there. It’s the same as last year. The consistency in revenues is important. Essentially, by adding a seventh game, we just added $25 to the season ticket price, and then we also added in a $25 concession voucher for every season ticket … We’d like to ask our fans to hang in there with us this year. We don’t take anyone for granted but we know our home schedule in 2019 that Hokies demand more and enjoy more, and if you look in the out years, I think they’ll feel good about the direction.”
The Hokies have future out of conference home dates against Penn State (2020), Notre Dame (2021 and 2028), West Virginia (2022), Purdue (2023), Rutgers (2024), Wisconsin (2025), BYU (2026), Maryland (2027 and 2029), and Arizona (2030). In addition, Atlantic Division opponents on future home schedules include Syracuse (2021) and Florida State (2023).
Many thanks to Andy Bitter of The Athletic for helping with the accuracy of transcribed quotes.