ECU opts out of season-opening basketball event

The coronavirus has already affected the Pirates' basketball season

Jayden Gardner averaged 19.7 points and 9.2 rebounds per game for ECU last season (Jessica Hill / AP Photo)

East Carolina was scheduled to begin the 2020-21 basketball season on Wednesday with a game against Indiana State as part of the Gulf Coast Showcase in Fort Myers, Florida.

But because of concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, coach Joe Dooley’s team has decided to opt out of the season-opening multiteam event.

“We apologize to the organizers of the Gulf Coast Showcase for the cancellation because they have done a terrific job of setting up medical protocols for the event,” ECU athletic director Jon Gilbert said in a statement announcing his schools decision to cancel this week’s trip.

“Obviously it’s disappointing for the members of our basketball program who were looking forward to opening the season, but our top priority is the health and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches and staff.  We understand that disruptions will come during this ongoing pandemic and will make the necessary adjustments to our schedule.”

In addition to ECU and Indiana State, the other teams participating in the Gulf Coast Showcase are East Tennessee State, Abilene Christian, Akron, Middle Tennessee, Austin Peay and Omaha.

The Pirates, who are led by All-American Athletic Conference forward Jayden Gardner, are now scheduled to begin the new season on Saturday, Dec. 5 against Radford at Minges Coliseum.