Governor Cooper tries to resolve 'hurricane game' dispute between ECU and VT

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By the time Hurricane Florence crashed into the North Carolina coast in September, East Carolina University had already decided to cancel its trip to Virginia Tech, deeming it too unsafe to travel its football team to Blacksburg, Virginia to play the Hokies.

“I was all about it. I was fine with it,” said ECU alumnus and diehard Pirate football fan Augustine Masiala. “As long as everyone’s safe, I’m okay with that. We can play football another day.”

But ECU’s decision was anything but okay with Virginia Tech. The Hokies lost out on thousands of dollars in ticket sales and revenue from the game.

And after weeks of fruitless negotiations, Virginia Tech announced it was canceling its scheduled games at ECU in 2019, 2023 and 2025, which deprives the Pirates of a marquee matchup- an economic gut punch for ECU and Greenville.

Masiala described Tech’s reaction as, “very petty.”

“I think it was definitely a statement on their side,” she said. “To cancel one game, okay fine, tit for tat, but to cancel multiple games, I thought it was just unnecessary.”

Now, the fight is turning into a political football.

Governor Roy Cooper called Virginia Governor Ralph Northam and urged a resolution to the dispute.

“Canceling a major college football game means lost revenue, but the safety of the players and fans should come first,” Governor Cooper wrote in a statement.

Ahead of the catastrophic hurricane that claimed 43 lives and wreaked $17 billion in damage, Governor Cooper had urged residents to stay off the roads and prepare for the storm.

“ECU made the responsible decision and this dispute should be resolved without making pirate nation bear additional costs from Hurricane Florence,” Governor Cooper wrote.

ABC11 reached out to Virginia Teach for reaction to Cooper’s plea.

Pete Moris, Virginia Tech’s Associate Athletic Director emailed, “We politely decline to comment on the matter.”

ECU’s chancellor issued a statement, thanking Governor Cooper for getting involved.

But at this point, both schools have scheduled new opponents for next season’s game, and there’s no indication from VT that it plans to revisit its decision to cancel the 2023 or 2025 game in Greenville.

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