The Department of Defense did not issue an official statement about the suspension of service academy sports and did not immediately respond to telephone and e-mail requests seeking comment. Instead, it sent an order suspending the sports to the Navy Superintendent’s office, Strasemeier said.
Reached via telephone, Navy Athletic Director Chet Gladchuk said the best-case scenario would be the shutdown ending so the game can proceed.
“At this stage we’re taking it basically a half a day at a time, holding our breath that they can bring [the shutdown] to resolution,” Gladchuk said. “The game on Saturday, I mean it’s a huge issue. The stage is set for one of the most significant event statements we’ve had in a long time, so the timing couldn’t be worse.”
The game is sold out, and athletic department officials are anticipating a record crowd at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Navy is planning to honor the team that went to the Cotton Bowl with Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Roger Staubach 50 years ago. The Pro Football Hall of Famer is expected to attend, along with then-coach Wayne Hardin, a recent inductee into the College Football Hall of Fame, and other members of the ’63 team.
“There’s just too many strings attached to this ballgame to assume that we’re not going to play it,” Gladchuk said. “We’re hopeful again that the government can bring resolution to their issues and we can move forward.”
If the game is postponed, it could be rescheduled for Dec. 7. Navy has three weeks off between its game at San Jose State on Nov. 22 and its annual contest with Army on Dec. 14. Air Force is slated to close its regular season on Nov. 30 at Colorado State.
Army’s football game at Boston College on Saturday also is in limbo. Reached via e-mail, an Army spokesman said Athletic Director Boo Corrigan would not be conducting interviews.
“We have been in close communication with Army athletics officials regarding the potential impact of the government shutdown on Saturday’s game,” Boston College Athletic Director Brad Bates said in a statement released by the school. “Obviously our intention is to exhaust all possibilities to play and we will communicate the information promptly as soon as we have resolution.”
At Air Force, the shutdown impacts members of the Falcons’ support staff, classified as civil service employees. They would be ineligible to travel during the shutdown. According to a report in the Colorado Springs Gazette, Air Force Athletic Director Hans Mueh, assistant football coach John Rudzinksi and the school’s sports information department were furloughed Tuesday.
In a statement posted on the school’s athletics Web site, Air Force said, “At this time, travel for all intercollegiate athletics is canceled — this includes the Air Force-Navy game on Saturday, 5 Oct.”