East Carolina will play four of its first five football games in the state of North Carolina later this year.

ECU’s full schedule release Thursday included the Pirates having their American Athletic Conference opener Oct. 2 against Tulane at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium for homecoming, followed by a game at UCF, a bye week and another road game versus Houston on Oct. 23.

The season opener is Sept. 2 versus Appalachian State in Charlotte, the first ECU-ASU matchup since Week 1 in 2012 and the Pirates’ first Charlotte game since 2011. ECU will then host South Carolina the following week, the Gamecocks’ first visit to Greenville since 1997, followed by matchups at Marshall, versus Charleston Southern and home versus the Green Wave. The Pirates play at UCF (Oct. 9) before their bye week.

Season tickets are set to go on sale March 1.

“I do think we have a competitive home schedule and those ticket prices will remain the same — $300 and $240, and $150 for the upper deck,” Pirate athletics director Jon Gilbert said last week during ECU Board of Trustees meetings. “At home, we’ll have South Carolina, Charleston Southern, Cincinnati, South Florida, Temple, Tulane. Our Appalachian State game, which is a home game for Appalachian State, will be played in Charlotte on Thursday night prior to Labor Day. That game will be on the ticket order form, but not part of our season ticket football package. We’re going to go out as normal that we’re going to have fans in August in Dowdy-Ficklen as normal. I look forward to getting that out to our fan base.”

2021 ECU FOOTBALL SCHEDULE

Sept. 2 — Appalachian State (in Charlotte)

Sept. 11 — South Carolina

Sept. 18 — at Marshall

Sept. 25 — Charleston Southern

Oct. 2 — Tulane

Oct. 9 — at UCF

BYE

Oct. 23 — at Houston

Oct. 28 or 30 — South Florida

Nov. 4 or 6 — Temple

Nov. 13 — at Memphis

Nov. 20 — at Navy

Nov. 26 or 27 — Cincinnati

Award for Gray

East Carolina sports media relations director Malcolm Gray, a regular staff member at the NCAA Baseball World Series, longtime National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association officer/board member and president of NCBWA in 2016-17, was chosen as the 46th recipient of the prestigious Wilbur Snypp Award, presented annually by the NCBWA for outstanding contributions to college baseball.

He works daily with Pirate head baseball coach Cliff Godwin, ECU players and assistant coaches while serving as the primary day-to-day liaison for media members. He coordinates interviews, oversees production of baseball publications, is press box supervisor and assists with various other aspects of the baseball program and media relations, including assisting with ECU football coverage.

His media services operation at Clark-LeClair Stadium has been recognized and lauded by national publications and regional sports information outlets. The Greenville native also worked as a summer press officer with USA Baseball, which included stints with the 2010 Collegiate National Team that participated in the World University Championships in Tokyo, Japan.

“I’m very humbled and honored to be selected for such a prestigious award as the Wilbur Snypp,” Gray said in a release. “As the national pastime, baseball has given me more than I could every repay. Being a Greenville native, I grew up watching East Carolina baseball essentially in my own back yard and I never thought I would have the opportunity to work at my alma mater and interact with so many amazing coaches, student-athletes, colleagues and media in the communications field.”

Added NCBWA executive director Bo Carter: “Honestly, it is hard to describe the many ways that Malcolm Gray has been an advocate and true friend to college baseball for three decades. He is very deserving of this top honor from the NCBWA, and he has worked with hundreds of baseball coaches, student-athletes, media members and sports communications professionals with true class and a willingness to assist in any way possible.”

The NCBWA on Thursday included ECU players Bryson Worrell (outfielder, second team) and Jake Kuchmaner (pitcher, third team) on its preseason All-America team.

Golf opener

The East Carolina men’s golf team struggled in its opening tournament of the season with a 15th-place finish at the 54-hole Kiawah Invitational at Oak Point Golf Club in Kiawah Island, S.C.

“This was definitely a shock to the system to play so poorly, especially with as hard as our team worked this winter in preparation for the start of the spring season,” coach Andrew Sapp said in a release. “We won’t stop working hard and will hope that this painful experience becomes a catalyst to better play in the upcoming weeks.”

Senior Stephen Carroll posted ECU’s lowest score with a 5-over-par 221 (73-70-78).