First, NC State put all athletic activities on “pause” and now the start of the football season has been delayed.
NC State, which has had a rise in coronavirus cases on and near campus, has moved its trip to Virginia Tech back and will now open the football season with Wake Forest.
The school announced the decision on Wednesday, in conjunction with the ACC, to move the road game at Virginia Tech to Sept. 26. The game was originally scheduled to be played on Sept. 12 to open the season.
Now, NC State is scheduled to start the season with a home game with Wake Forest on Sept. 19.
“We appreciate the ACC and Virginia Tech working together in partnership to move this game to a mutual open weekend,” NC State athletic director Boo Corrigan said in a statement released by the school. “There’s no blueprint for what we’re all trying to navigate and we are grateful for everyone’s collaboration to make this work.”
NC State announced on Monday that it had 27 positive COVID tests within the athletic department and has put all team activities on pause.
According to two sources with knowledge of the situation, the football program was included in the positive tests.
Under the contact-tracing guidelines provided by the ACC’s medical advisory group, the players who have come in contact with the person who tested positive would have to be quarantined for 14 days.
NC State hasn’t practiced since Saturday’s scrimmage and more than a dozen players were held out of the practice due to COVID protocols.
That would have left NC State coach Dave Doeren with a depleted linuep and little prep time for the originally scheduled trip to Virginia Tech.
“The ACC created a league schedule with flexibility to adjust games if needed,” Doeren said in a statement released by the school. “There are going to be times teams must adjust based on what is best for the health and safety of the players and staffs involved. This move provides our team and staff the time needed to prepare and reacclimate after pausing our practices.”
The ACC has set two open dates for each team into the modified 11-game schedule this season. Both NC State and Virginia Tech had the Sept. 26 date open.
The shift in schedule will now mean the Wolfpack will be on the road after the Wake Forest game for three straight weeks with trips to Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh (Oct. 3) and Virginia (Oct. 10).
NC State has identified seven new clusters of the virus on Tuesday – three were found in residence halls on the main campus and four were found in off-campus apartment complexes.
On Tuesday, the university added clusters at:
- Bragaw Residence Hall – eight cases;
- Metcalf Residence Hall – six cases;
- Owen Residence Hall – five cases;
- University Towers, located adjacent to campus, – 17 cases;
- The Stanhope Apartment Complex, located near the 3100 block of Hillsborough Street, – 16 cases of coronavirus, all of them NC State students;
- The UnCommon Apartment Complex, located near the 3000 block of Hillsborough Street, – six cases, all of them NC State students; and
- Valentine Commons Apartment Complex, located near Hillsborough Street and Concord Street, – five cases, all of them NC State students.
A “cluster” is defined by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services as five or more cases that are deemed close proximity or location.
NC State announced 22 new positive tests for the coronavirus Monday within the athletic department and put all sports activities on pause.
In all, the athletic department has administered 2,053 tests with 30 total positives. The athletic department testing numbers include players, coaches and support staff. The school has not said which individual sports or teams had athletes or staff who have tested positive.
On Monday, a letter was sent to NC State season ticket holders saying that tickets were suspended for the 2020 football season.
“By suspending football season tickets and with the possibility that no fans may be permitted this fall, the direct financial impact could be up to $21 million,” Corrigan wrote in the letter to the fans.
Chris Williams, manager of Sammy’s Tap and Grill, a popular gameday hangout for State fans, said the prospect of canceled games or even social distancing would make Saturday look very different.
“It’s frustrating, but it’s almost sad as well,” he said.
Sammy’s is large enough – diners can spread out – that Williams still expects to be able to stay in business even if games don’t happen.
“If the season is canceled, it’s out of my hands,” he said. “We’ll still be showing reruns of the glory days.”
The cost to NC State, though, would run to the tens of millions of dollars.
University athletics programs make money in three ways: From tickets and concessions, from television contracts and from fan donations.
The drive to keep the season alive is mostly about the TV money, which amounts to about $30 million for each member school.