MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia's season opener next month will be held without fans due to the coronavirus pandemic, the university announced Thursday.


The Mountaineers will face Eastern Kentucky on Sept. 12.


"We are disappointed that we will not be able to allow fans to attend the Sept. 12 home game, but we are working diligently to open our gates for Big 12 Conference play," athletic director Shane Lyons said. "It is our goal to have fans at Milan Puskar Stadium this season, but right now, that is not possible for the EKU game."


The school said in a statement that only essential game operations personnel and families of the players and football staff will be allowed to attend.


West Virginia's Big 12 home opener is Oct. 3 against Baylor.


"Our primary collective University focus right now is on the start of classes and the safe return of our students to our WVU Campuses," Lyons said. "I am hopeful that all of us will be aggressive in taking appropriate precautions to prevent the spread of this virus so that all parties can be comfortable allowing a percentage of fans to attend on Oct. 3 and beyond."


In-person classes at West Virginia start on Aug. 26 for freshmen, graduate and some professional students, while upperclassmen will start classwork online. Masks must be worn on campus.


The Big 12, Atlantic Coast Conference and Southeastern Conference are among six Football Bowl Subdivision leagues proceeding with plans to play this fall during the pandemic. The Big Ten and Pac-12 announced Aug. 11 there would be no fall season in their conferences.