By Nathan Ham
Appalachian State University is anticipating starting its 2020 season on the first Saturday in September as the Sun Belt Conference announced on Tuesday that all conference teams would start play over Labor Day weekend.
Sun Belt teams will play eight conference games and are allowed to play up to four non-conference games.
Right now, Appalachian State is actively searching for two opponents to fill open spots on their schedule, including for the season-opener on September 5. The Mountaineers were originally scheduled to play FCS opponent Morgan State, however, the Mid-Eastern Atlantic Conference (MEAC) that Morgan State is a member of has decided to suspend all fall sports due to COVID-19. The other open spot on the schedule, September 19, came open when the Big 10 Conference (B1G) announced that their teams will play 10 conference games and no non-conference games this year, putting a cancelation on the Mountaineers’ trip to Madison to take on the University of Wisconsin.
The Sun Belt announcement also stated that the conference will still host a football championship game on Dec. 5 between the East Division and West Division champions. If necessary, the date of the championship game may be adjusted.
According to Appalachian State’s Yosef Club, right now all tickets will go to students and to season ticket holders, meaning it is very unlikely that any single-game tickets will be sold this season and road game tickets will be very limited.
As of now, the university is planning on how to fill the stadium at 50 percent capacity while also working within social distancing guidelines.
For those concerned about their season tickets for 2020, the Yosef Club also announced that members could receive a credit toward 2021football season tickets, use the credit toward additional Yosef Club priority points or receive a prorated ticket refund should any future games on the schedule face cancelations as the season gets underway.
The other two non-conference games on Appalachian’s schedule, a road game at Wake Forest on Friday night, September 11, and a home date against UMASS on Saturday afternoon, September 26, are still expected to be played. There has been some discussion about how Wake Forest will handle its schedule with being allowed just one non-conference game this season after the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) made their announcement of a 10-game conference schedule and one non-conference game. The Demon Deacons will either have to cancel its road game at Old Dominion or its home game with the Mountaineers.
A lot could still change, as we are still a month away from the season beginning. The University of Connecticut announced on Wednesday morning that they would not be playing football this fall due to COVID-19 fears from both players and coaching staff members, becoming the first Football Bowl Subdivision team (FBS) to announce they would not play football in 2020. UCONN recently left the American Athletic Conference to play football as an independent.