Today is set to bring with it a different phase of the adjusted preseason model for college football that was approved by the Division I Football Oversight Committee, and later, the D1 Council. For the last several weeks, college football teams across the country, including ECU’s, have been trickling back to campus to participate in voluntary on-campus workouts ahead of the 2020 season.

At ECU, student-athletes are required to be tested when they return, as well as undergo about a week-long process to gain knowledge about updated protocols and procedures meant to help reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Up until this point, only one positive coronavirus test has been identified within ECU’s athletic department, with well over 100 tests conducted. Around the country, other programs have been less fortunate, causing them to slow down or stop workouts altogether.

Even with all that happening around them and coronavirus cases increasing rapidly across the country, including in North Carolina, the Pirates are set to enter the first phase of required on-campus workouts, beginning today.

With approval to start a week early considering their Week 0 matchup with Marshall on Aug. 29, the Pirates will be allowed to conduct eight hours of countable athletically related activities for a period of 10 days. That means coaches, who had previously been barred from attending or conducting voluntary workouts, will be allowed to coordinate weight training and conditioning sessions and film review.

After those 10 or so days are up, the amount of CARA hours increases to 20 as walk-throughs begin to be allowed. The 20 hours will be allotted in a way to allow eight hours for weight training, six hours for the aforementioned walk-throughs and six hours for team meetings that can include position groups and individual meetings.

That period is set to last for two weeks, at such time as the team’s regular preseason practice schedule kicks into gear. For ECU, that period will start toward the end of July as the team must conduct 25 practices in a 29-day period ahead of its first scheduled game.

While we are still more than 50 days away from seeing Pirate football in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, today signifies an important step in the team’s ramp-up for the season. Even so, many questions will need to be answered before ECU takes the field, or even welcomes students back to campus on Aug. 10.

Top on that list is keeping the spread of the coronavirus in-check, something the university has done well up until this point with the return of student-athletes. Still, there’s a long way to go but today represents one step closer to having football back in the fall.

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