There was a time during this pandemic when the idea of bringing sporting events back to venues across the country seemed impossible. Now, as the 2020 college football season continues to inch closer and the COVID-19 pandemic slows in some areas, plans are being made to begin the upcoming campaign on time.

Earlier this week, the NCAA Football Oversight Committee approved a plan that would call for a six-week preseason to allow student-athletes enough time to get back in shape and learn the playbook. That plan, which would have programs that play Week 0 (like ECU) begin two weeks of team strength and conditioning in early July, is set to be presented to the Division I Council this coming week for a vote.

If approved (all signs are favorable at this point), teams could begin eight hours of countable athletically related activities in less than a month. That would lead into 20-hour weeks where programs would be allowed to conduct walkthroughs, team meetings and strength and conditioning activities of an increased amount.

Eventually, around the first of August for ECU and a week later for other programs, teams would begin normal preseason practice in preparation for the upcoming season. Four weeks of such practice is to be required before the team’s first game.

At ECU, voluntary on-campus workouts have already begun. According to a press release from the team, around 30 student-athletes returned to campus last week while the Murphy Center Strength & Conditioning Facility and Multi-Purpose Turf Field are being phased into the rotation of facilities available to players for workouts.

On Twitter, ECU quarterback Holton Ahlers posted pictures of himself, running back Trace Christian and tight end Jeremy Lewis working out on the practice fields on campus.

With all the positive news surrounding the upcoming season, including the sights of Pirate players ramping up for their Aug. 29 game against Marshall, the athletic department has seen a sharp spike in season ticket sales.

Earlier this week, the department announced on Twitter it had sold 7,505 season tickets ahead of the June 10 priority deadline. While a solid number, considering the economic hardships that many Americans have faced amid the coronavirus pandemic, it was noticeably short of the 10,000 goal set by Athletic Director Jon Gilbert earlier this year.

Well two days later, that number had jumped to 9,792 season tickets sold and again to 10,044 earlier today. That means in less than a week, Pirate Nation purchased over 2,500 season tickets for the Pirates’ upcoming season, helping to beat expectations by the athletic department.

While the coronavirus has impacted the lives of every American and most people around the world, governmental agencies are beginning to slowly ease restrictions and allow people back in once closed spaces. As college football readies for a return, the question still looms as to whether or not fans will be allowed back in stadiums in late August.

For right now, signs point to the at least partial filling of sports stadiums this fall, a good sign for a Pirate Nation that has showed a great deal of support to ECU’s football team this spring.

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