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The Roanoke Times (Virginia)
BLACKSBURG — East Carolina has announced it won't make the trip to Blacksburg this weekend for its scheduled game at Lane Stadium against Virginia Tech at noon Saturday citing significant imminent safety concerns.
Hurricane Florence is likely to make U.S. landfall on the coast Thursday or Friday and could bring heavy rain and winds to Blacksburg on Saturday.
"The safety and welfare for everyone in the path of this storm is the University's main priority and decisions regarding athletics events are made in the best interest of ensuring the safety of student-athletes, coaches, staff and their families," a release said. "In fact, all ECU athletics teams are prohibited from traveling for competition purposes this weekend. This is also consistent with the NCAA's requirement that member institutions protect the health of and provide a safe environment for student-athletes."
East Carolina canceled classes for the week as of noon Tuesday. The school plans to evacuate residence halls for the rest of the week by 10 a.m. Wednesday.
According to multiple sources, the schools never had any discussion of moving the game to another location.
Both schools left the door open for rescheduling the game for later this season, but the teams don't have the same bye week. Virginia Tech is off the week of Oct. 20 while ECU has a bye week the following weekend.
"Tech officials had planned on waiting until Wednesday before making a determination on the status of Saturday's game in hopes that the contest could still be safely played as scheduled once more definitive information on the storm's projected track and anticipated impact on Southwest Virginia became available," Virginia Tech said in a statement.
The ACC football manual leaves discretion on scheduling for non-conference teams to "home team management," but East Carolina informed Virginia Tech it wouldn't travel to the game on Tuesday afternoon.
"We will do what's best for Virginia Tech moving forward as it relates to ECU and to the game," Virginia Tech athletic director Whit Babcock said in a statement. "We certainly understand the need for safety, of course, we just felt that tomorrow, making the decision then, would've been more responsible and accurate. We informed ECU of this multiple times."
Virginia Tech still has six games left in the series against East Carolina, alternating home and away going through 2024 (with a year off in 2021). The series was extended by four games in 2016. The contract calls for the home team to receive $250,000.
The contract has a damages clause that requires a payment of $500,000 if one party cancels a scheduled date, but there is a separate force majeure clause — a provision that relieves the parties from performing contractual obligations — that states, "the contract should be void in respect to any of the game if it becomes impossible to play such game(s) by reason of unforeseen catastrophe or disaster such as fire, flood, earthquake, war, confiscation as order of government, military or public authority or prohibitory or injunctive orders of any competent or other judicial authority."
A cancellation of one game "shall not be considered a breach or cancellation of all games."
The last Virginia Tech game canceled was the opener against Georgia Tech in 2000.
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