College Football

Virginia Tech backs out of football games vs. East Carolina

(AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP) Virginia Tech is backing out of three football games against East Carolina.

The Hokies announced Saturday that they are replacing September's scrubbed game at East Carolina and pulling out of scheduled games against the Pirates in 2023 and 2025.

Virginia Tech didn't specify who it will play next fall to replace the ECU game, only that the game would be played at home.

The decision comes three months after the Pirates opted not play at Virginia Tech because of safety concerns over travel as Hurricane Florence approached the Carolinas. At the time, Virginia Tech athletic director Whit Babcock issued a statement saying his school had told ECU "multiple times" that it wanted to wait to review storm projections before ECU's decision forced the game's cancellation.

East Carolina relocated its football team to Florida ahead of its following-week game to get off campus and out of a region that had faced serious flooding from several past strong hurricanes.

In a statement, new ECU athletic director Jon Gilbert said Virginia Tech notified the school Friday of its decision.

"While this is disappointing, especially from a regional interest standpoint and given our long-standing partnership, ECU's decision not to travel to Blacksburg last September was based on imminent safety concerns related to Hurricane Florence, which tragically claimed multiple fatalities and devastated many North Carolina communities that are still in the recovery process today," Gilberts said.

"Ultimately, the decision was made for the safety and welfare of our student-athletes, coaches, staff and their families, and that will always be our top priority."

The storm's death toll is at least 54 people in three states, with 41 of those in ECU's home state of North Carolina.

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Updated December 22, 2018

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