East Tennessee State's return to Southern Conference football next season gained added flair Thursday as the Buccaneers announced they will host Western Carolina on Sept. 17 at Bristol Motor Speedway in their first conference game since 2003.
The matchup will come in ETSU's second season back to football following last year's return as an FCS independent program.
"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our players, coaches, staff, university and fans," ETSU coach Carl Torbush said in a statement.
The racetrack is less than 30 miles from ETSU's campus in Johnson City. The Bucs' other home games will remain at Science Hill High School in Johnson City while the team awaits an expected move into a new facility in 2017.
ESTU went 2-9 under Torbush last season, while Western Carolina was 7-4.
The Football Championship Subdivision programs will have their game exactly one week after Tennessee and Virginia Tech face off at the speedway on Sept. 10. The goal for that game is to surpass the college football record for attendance -- 115,109 for Notre Dame at Michigan in 2013.
The speedway's seating capacity is about 160,000.
Dana Landry, a spokesman for the speedway, said the infrastructure from the Tennessee-Virginia Tech will remain in place for the ETSU-Western Carolina game, though a smaller capacity is expected for the Sept. 17 matchup.