Tuesday brought with it an update from ECU’s Athletic Director Jon Gilbert in the form of a “From The Helm” letter addressed to Pirate Nation. In recent months and weeks, Gilbert’s letters have provided fans and those who follow ECU athletics vital information about the inner-workings of the department.

As the football team begins a summer access phase under the NCAA’s updated preseason model and questions swirl about fall sports, COVID-19 and the well-being of student-athletes and staff, Gilbert’s update shed some much-needed light on some of those topics.

Perhaps the biggest news in Gilbert’s letter was his update of ECU’s COVID-19 testing numbers regarding returning personnel. Under the school’s policies, each athlete and staff member is to be tested upon return to campus and must undergo a week-long process aimed to educate them about the spread of COVID-19.

According to Gilbert, the department has conducted 270 COVID-19 tests of student-athletes, coaches and staff and received 15 positive results. On June 25, ECU confirmed its first positive case of the virus but has carried out additional testing of the football, and men’s and women’s basketball teams since then as they have slowly returned to campus.

“All individuals who test positive for COVID-19 will self-isolate and receive daily monitoring from ECU Athletics medical staff,” Gilbert wrote in the letter. “All decisions are made with the health and well-being of our student-athletes in mind and we continue to monitor all new developments surrounding COVID-19.”

Aside from the news about testing, Gilbert thanked Pirate Nation for its purchasing of season tickets and hitting the goal of 10,000 set by the department in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Gilbert said approximately 10,500 season tickets have been sold at this time.

With crowd restrictions still in place for the state of North Carolina under Phase 2 of reopening, it is beginning to look more and more like fans will not be allowed in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium this fall. Gilbert said in his letter that the department does not anticipate setting single-game tickets and is working on plans for possible capacity restrictions.

“It’s very likely we will have capacity restrictions at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, whether that be 50 percent, 25 percent or less,'” Gilbert wrote. “We are in constant communication with our campus, local and state leaders and those decisions will be made at that appropriate time. I ask for your patience and understanding because this is a fluid situation.”

Gilbert also said that if capacity restrictions are put into place, season ticket holders and students would receive priority.

Gilbert also touched on the hiring of Adler Augustin as the head volleyball coach, as well as the various academic honors earned by teams and individuals this spring and summer.

To read the entire letter, click here.

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