GREENVILLE, N.C. - East Carolina and BYU have agreed to a two-year home-and-home football series in 2017 and 2018 according to a joint announcement by both institutions Wednesday.
In 2017, the Pirates will open the series by welcoming the Cougars to Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium before following with a trip to LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo, Utah, a year later.
"BYU’s national athletic profile and the beauty of the campus and surrounding area make both of these games ones that every Pirate will want to see - here in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium as well as at LaVell Edwards Stadium," ECU Director of Athletics Terry Holland said. "This series will provide first-class football and terrific sportsmanship for all Pirate and Cougar fans. This is a relationship that we would like to continue in the future, possibly with competitions in other sports."
BYU is coming off its first season as a football independent in 2011 with a 10-3 record and a 24-21 victory over Conference USA member Tulsa in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl. The Cougars finished the year ranked No. 25 in the USA Today Coaches Poll, earning a spot in the final top-25 poll for the fifth time in the last six seasons.
The Cougars began playing football in 1922. In 87 seasons, BYU has earned 23 conference titles and appeared in 30 bowl games, winning five of its last six bowl appearances. The Cougars won the National Championship in 1984.
“We’re excited about this series with East Carolina. It allows both schools to have a unique travel experience and play very good competition,” said BYU Director of Athletics Tom Holmoe. “Our football team has never played in North Carolina, so I’m excited that BYU fans in that part of the country will have an opportunity to see our team play in person.”
East Carolina posted a 5-7 record and third-place finish in C-USA's East Division during the 2011 campaign. Despite having 25 players start their first career games in 2011, the Pirates rebounded from a 1-4 start to a 4-3 finish and narrowly missed making their sixth-straight bowl appearance.
The series will feature two programs that have ranked among the top three nationally in average attendance outside automatic-qualifying Bowl Championship Series (BCS) conference members for the past two seasons. BYU (26th overall) and East Carolina (40th) drew 60,265 and 50,012 fans per game last fall, respectively, trailing only Notre Dame's mark of 80,795. In 2010, the Cougars averaged 61,381 per contest while the Pirates recorded a turnstile count of 49,665 a game in their first season inside an expanded 50,000-seat Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
Additional details including broadcast plans, game times and ticket information will be released at a later date.
BYU will join North Carolina (2012-13), South Carolina (2012, 2014-16), Navy (2012), Appalachian State (2012), West Virginia (2013-2018), N.C State (2013, 2016), The Citadel (2013) and Virginia Tech (2014-17) on East Carolina's list of non-conference opponents through 2018.