Navy's home game against Air Force may fall victim to the budget shutdown. (Joe Imel / The Associated Press)
Travel for all intercollegiate athletic events at the Air Force Academy is on hold as part of the government shutdown, leaving this weekend’s Air Force-Navy football game in doubt.
“At this time, travel for all intercollegiate athletics is cancelled — this includes the Air Force-Navy game on Saturday, 5 Oct.,” the Air Force Academy said in a news release.
The sold-out contest at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., is set for national TV broadcast Saturday morning on CBS. Naval Academy athletics said in a news release that a decision about the game will be made before noon on Thursday.
The cancellation of travel for intercollegiate sports is part of a broader Defense Department directive to temporarily halt nonessential travel, said Air Force Academy spokesman Maj. Bruce Vidal. The Defense Department released a memo on Friday that said temporary duty travel to “non-excepted activities” would not continue in the event of a shutdown.
It’s unclear whether the game would go as planned if the shutdown ends this week. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is expected to decide within the next 48 hours whether the service academies can pool their non-appropriated funds to hold on-the-road games during the shutdown, a defense official said late Tuesday.
Non-appropriated funds do not come from Congress and have restrictions on how they can be used, the official said. Defense officials are currently conducting a legal review of whether the service academies can use that money for the games.
The Air Force Academy news release said the Falcons will attempt to play all home intercollegiate athletic contests, but those may be canceled as well. Academy officials are working with Mountain West Conference officials, those teams the Falcons were scheduled to play and officials at Air Force headquarters to make up as many games as possible, the release said.
A possible make-up date for the Air Force-Navy game could come in early December — Navy’s off from Nov. 22 until the Dec. 14 Army-Navy game, and Air Force won’t play after Nov. 30 unless it makes the inaugural Mountain West Conference title game, which would require it to rally from a 0-4 MWC record to win its six-team division.
A call from USA Today Sports to Army about its Saturday game at Boston College was not immediately returned; neither were calls to BC.
All three service academy teams played during the 1995 government shutdown. On Nov. 18 of that year, Notre Dame beat Air Force 44-14 in Colorado Springs; Army beat Bucknell 37-6 at West Point; and Navy beat Tulane 35-7 in Annapolis, according to media guides provided by the schools. An agreement to end the shutdown came Nov. 19.