COVID-19 PUSHES BACK VIRGINIA TECH FOOTBALL'S SEASON OPENER
Virginia Tech announced that its football season opener on Sept. 12 against North Carolina State has been postponed to Sept. 26 due to an outbreak of positive tests in the Wolfpack’s athletic department.
"After consultation with Atlantic Coast Conference officials, our counterparts at NC State and our campus leadership at Virginia Tech, the mutual decision has been made to move the football game between Virginia Tech and NC State at Lane Stadium to Saturday, Sept. 26," Virginia Tech athletics said in a statement released at 12:15 p.m. on Wednesday. "Virginia Tech is now scheduled to open the 2020 football season on Saturday, Sept. 19 against the University of Virginia at Lane Stadium. We will continue to provide updates should any further changes to the 2020 schedule be deemed necessary."
First reported by Joe Giglio at WRALSportsFan on Tuesday, the game will be pushed back due to the ACC’s COVID-19 protocols on contact tracing. NC State announced 22 new positive coronavirus cases from 693 tests within its athletic department on Monday, which forced a pause on all sports activities.
The contract tracing guidelines from the ACC’s medical advisory group state any student-athlete who has come in contact with someone who tested positive, which is determined through contact tracing, will be required to quarantine for 14 days. They are not allowed to practice.
The Wolfpack scrimmaged this past Saturday but held out more than a dozen players due to COVID protocols, per Giglio’s report. According to Virginia Tech, no players have sat out due to COVID-19 issues so far. The Hokies finished up fall camp this weekend.
Though the timeline of the season has shifted back due to the pandemic, this is the first time a specific college football game has been pushed back due to positive tests in the athletic department.
The ACC was smart and built open weeks into the schedule to handle scenarios like this, and the Hokies and Wolfpack both had an open week on Sept. 26, which becomes the new date.
“You walk off the practice field and just wait for the new news to hit,” Virginia Tech head coach Justin Funete said of NC State’s announcement on Monday. “Opponents and schedules could change; we’ve got to be ready to go with the flow.”
NC State will now open their season against Wake Forest on Sept. 19, while Virginia Tech will face Virginia in the Battle for the Commonwealth Cup on the 19th to open the season.
It’s the first time the Hokies have opened with the Cavaliers since 1972, and only the third time ever in program history. Tech is 0-3 in season openers against UVa, falling 24-20 in ‘72.
UVa currently holds the Commonwealth Cup after snapping Tech’s 15-game win streak with a 39-30 win in Scott Stadium in November.
Due to the open date of Sept. 26 being taken up by the Wolfpack now, the Hokies will play ten games in a row with no open weeks. Their first open week in the updated schedule is Nov. 28, the second-to-last week of the season.
Photo Credit: Liam Sment