GREENVILLE, N.C. - East Carolina has accepted an invitation to play in the Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Dec. 29. The game, which will be televised by ESPN and has a 2:30 p.m. EST kickoff, will match the Pirates against a soon-to-be-announced representative from the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Tickets in the Pirates' section for the Military Bowl are available by calling the ECU Athletics Ticket Office at (800) DIAL-ECU or going online at www.ECUPirates.com. Pirate Club priority will apply for all tickets ordered by Tuesday, December 7. After that time, tickets will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. In addition, Pirate fans unable to attend the game are asked to purchase tickets to be donated to local and regional military bases. For more information or to donate, fans can call the athletics ticket office or visit East Carolina's official athletics website.
"An opportunity to play in the Military Bowl is exciting for the Pirate Nation and for team members due to its proximity for fans and families of the team, as well as the opportunity to play another ACC opponent this year," ECU Director of Athletics Terry Holland said. "Washington will still be decorated for the holidays and the bowl experience provided by the Military Bowl committee is second to none. Indoor tailgating at the DC Armory will provide a similar experience to that enjoyed at the Liberty Bowl the last two years, so it will be important for fans to get their tickets and tailgate reservations soon."
The Pirates (6-6, 5-3 Conference USA) will be making an unprecedented fifth-straight bowl appearance, their seventh since 2000 and 17th overall in program history when they visit Washington.
First-year head coach Ruffin McNeill, who played a role in ECU's first modern era bowl victory as a starting safety against Louisiana Tech in the 1978 Independence Bowl, has been a part of 13 previous bowl experiences as an assistant on the staffs at Clemson, Fresno State and Texas Tech. Most recently, he served as the Red Raiders' interim head coach a year ago and guided TTU to a 41-31 victory over Michigan State in the Valero Alamo Bowl.
East Carolina is 8-8 all-time in its bowl history and has captured four victories in the last 10 contests. Bowl wins during that span for the Pirates include a 37-34 decision over North Carolina State in the 1992 Peach Bowl (Atlanta, Ga.), a 19-13 triumph against Stanford in the 1995 St. Jude Liberty Bowl (Memphis, Tenn.), a 40-27 victory over Texas Tech in the 2000 galleryfurniture.com Bowl (Houston, Texas) and a 41-38 win over Boise State in the 2007 Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl (Honolulu).
"It is certainly a privilege and honor to have the opportunity to represent East Carolina in our nation's capital by playing in the Military Bowl," McNeill said. "I'm happy our seniors, a group that has provided this program with loyal leadership and stability during their careers and a time of transition, will have the chance to compete for a bowl championship and reach one of our goals this season. We are all looking forward to this special experience, something I know will provide us with lasting memories."
The Pirates will be the first team to represent Conference USA in the Military Bowl and follow last year's UCLA-Temple matchup and the Wake Forest-Navy contest in 2008.
"We are thrilled that East Carolina University will represent Conference USA in this year's Military Bowl," Steve Beck, Executive Director of the Military Bowl, said. "We look forward to playing host to the Pirate Nation in D.C., as well as welcoming the players and coaches for an exciting and memorable experience in our nation's capital."
Beck will travel to Greenville to issue a public invitation during halftime of the Pirates' basketball game against Charlotte Wednesday night at Minges Coliseum. Chancellor Steve Ballard, Holland and McNeill will officially accept on East Carolina's behalf during the ceremony, which will also feature a brief address to fans by ECU's head coach.