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Government Shutdown Jeopardizes Academy Athletic Events

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USA TODAY
October 2, 2013 Wednesday
FA CHASE EDITION
SPORTS; Pg. 3C
430 words
Shutdown imperils football games;
Academies' events being canceled
Dan Wolken, @DanWolken, USA TODAY Sports

The Department of Defense suspended all intercollegiate athletics contests at Air Force, Army and Navy on Tuesday because of the federal government shutdown, putting academy officials in a holding pattern with regard to football games scheduled for Saturday.

While some events in other sports were canceled, Navy officials said a decision would be made by noon ET Thursday on whether Saturday's sold-out game against Air Force in Annapolis, Md., could be played.

If the congressional budget impasse extends through the weekend, the game probably would be postponed, a person with knowledge of the decision process told USA TODAY Sports. The person requested anonymity because the person was not cleared to speak publicly.

Army's scheduled game at Boston College also was in doubt. Boston College athletics director Brad Bates said in a statement that the school was in communication with Army officials and would exhaust all possibilities to play the game.

Though Air Force and Navy proceeded with practice Tuesday as if the game were going to be played, nearly all civilian academy employees at Air Force -- including the sports information department and much of the athletics administration -- were sent home. As a result, Air Force coach Troy Calhoun's weekly news conference was canceled, even though coaches are exempt from the furloughs.

One possibility being explored, according to the person who spoke to USA TODAY Sports, is whether Air Force could use private funds -- perhaps through the Mountain West Conference office -- to make the trip and keep the game on schedule.

In an e-mail Tuesday, Air Force associate athletics director Troy Garnhart said the academy would attempt to play home contests in all sports but that those could be canceled as well.

Garnhart said the school would work with the conference office, opponents and the Department of the Air Force to make up as many lost games as possible.

Navy canceled Tuesday's soccer game against Howard.

If the football games are postponed, Air Force and Navy both have an opening Dec. 7 to possibly reschedule. Navy is off from Nov.22 until Dec.14, when it plays Army, and Air Force's season is scheduled to conclude Nov.30, barring an appearance in the Mountain West championship game. Given the Falcons' 0-4 league record, they almost certainly won't qualify.

CBS, which is supposed to broadcast the Air Force-Navy game nationally on its over-the-air network (kickoff is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. ET), was working on alternate programming in the event the game is not played, spokeswoman Jen Sabatelle said in an e-mail.

October 2, 2013

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