The impending arrival of Hurricane Florence has led Coastal Carolina University to move the location and date of its football game with Campbell.
The game was scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday at Brooks Stadium in Conway, and now will be played at 2 p.m. Wednesday at Campbell’s Barker-Lane Stadium in Buies Creek, N.C. Admission will be free.
“Over the last probably 24 to 36 hours, we looked over a variety of options. . . . This is where we landed, and it makes the most sense for both schools,” CCU Director of Athletics Matt Hogue told The Sun News.
Both teams played Saturday and will have just three days off between games. Campbell (2-0), a Football Championship Subdivision member, defeated Georgetown 13-8 on the road in Washington, D.C., and Coastal defeated Alabama-Birmingham 47-24 at Brooks Stadium to improve to 1-1 following a season-opening loss at South Carolina.
“We are well-prepared, we have a plan and we’ll be ready to go,” CCU head football coach Joe Moglia said in a university release. “Our biggest priority is to keep all of our students, our student-athletes and families safe.”
Once S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster orders all government agencies in the area to shut down, the campus must be closed, and no students or events are allowed on it.
The chances of a direct hit along the Carolinas coast have recently increased, according information from the National Weather Service in Wilmington, N.C., and the storm increased in intensity on Monday.
There is incentive for both teams to play the game – for Coastal for its record and for Campbell for its coffers.
The game is Campbell’s one shot against an FBS opponent with a guaranteed payday, and depending on how their season goes, it’s possible the Chants would need the victory to become bowl eligible.
If the game were not played this week, it could not be made up until the end of the regular season, if at all. Coastal has a bye week on Oct. 6 and Campbell’s bye week is the next weekend, so Dec. 1 would be the first possible Saturday for the teams to meet.
Campbell’s regular season ends on Nov. 17 and CCU’s on Nov. 23. The availability of Dec. 1 assumes Campbell wouldn’t have an FCS playoff game and CCU wouldn’t be in the Sun Belt Conference championship game.
“Any rescheduling would have been difficult and would have relied on contingencies to even make that work,” Hogue said. “You would have to know future performance for both teams to schedule at a later date, and that didn’t seem to make sense if we had another option.”
The game will be a financial hit for CCU. The game guarantee to Campbell is approximately $300,000, Hogue said, though he hopes that will be negotiated down.
“We’re talking to Campbell about mitigating that based on we now have travel costs, but it’s still our intention to honor it,” Hogue said. “We may agree to a revised number once that dust settles, and we have a chance to discuss it.
“This is our first year of bowl eligibility. It’s important for us to get all of our games in to win the amount of games needed. The big picture in this situation outweighs the small picture in terms of the guarantee.”
The football team and staff will stay in a hotel Tuesday night, and will remain together at a location away from campus and out of harm’s way until the campus reopens, and will seek places to practice. Team and athletics officials were working on those plans late Monday afternoon.
“Once our campus closes, it makes things problematic,” Hogue said. “It’s a massive logistical challenge, you try to knock it out step by step.”
Hogue was working on rescheduling, relocating or canceling other sporting events planned through the rest of the week. The volleyball team was scheduled to host a tournament Thursday through Saturday that has been canceled, the women’s soccer team was scheduled to host Sun Belt Conference games Friday and Sunday against Little Rock and Arkansas State that will likely either be relocated or rescheduled, and the men’s soccer team had games Tuesday against Radford and Sunday against George Mason canceled or postponed..
The Chants are accustomed to weathering hurricanes.
Just two years ago, Hurricane Matthew forced a campus evacuation that happened to encompass a football bye week, and the team had nine days off – with only a few of those days planned.
Many players traveled back to their homes, and many rode out difficult situations with their families and/or friends in storm-impacted areas before team activities resumed. Because practices resumed before the campus reopened, many players were housed in the Marriott hotel for a couple nights.
All fans who purchased single-game tickets for the Campbell contest can exchange those tickets for any remaining Coastal Carolina home football game this season. Call the CCU ticket office for more information at 843-347-8499.
There will be live radio coverage of Wednesday’s game via the Chanticleer Sports Network.
Coastal’s next home football game will be Oct. 13 against Louisiana-Monroe, and it will be Family Weekend. That game will follow Coastal’s bye week in the schedule.