Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel Says Service Academies Will Play Through Month

Ethan GrantAnalyst IOctober 10, 2013

Oct 5, 2013; Annapolis, MD, USA; Air Force Falcons quarterback Karson Roberts (16) scrambles under pressure from Navy Midshipmen defensive end Paul Quessenberry (45) during the second half at Navy Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Paul Frederiksen-USA TODAY Sports
Paul Frederiksen-USA TODAY Sport

The United States government might still be shut down, but the show will go on as far as sporting events scheduled for the country's three military service academies are concerned. 

At least until the end of October, that is. 

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has decided that Army, Navy and Air Force will compete in athletic contests this weekend through the end of the month, at which time he and the Pentagon will reassess the situation if Congress has not yet passed a budget to end the shutdown. 

According to a report from the Associated Press, via ESPNPentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren says that Hagel consulted with various high-ranking officials before making a final decision. Warren also informed the AP that the institutions could have faced fines if the games were canceled. 

In a separate report on Monday, the AP also stated that Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk was in the process of providing information to the Defense Department to show that government funds would not be used for sporting events, a situation that also likely played into the decision to keep things status quo. 

For the second straight week, student-athletes at the three academies can breathe a sigh of relief. 

Oct 5, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Army Black Knights quarterback Kelvin White (13) jumps over Boston College Eagles line backer Steven Daniels (52) during the third quarter at Alumni Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Army played its game at Boston College last weekend, and the Air Force-Navy clash also went on as expected despite initial resistance that suggested sports competition would be halted as a result of the situation on Capitol Hill.    

On the football field, all three academies will be in action this weekend. Army is set to host Eastern Michigan while Navy is traveling to Duke on Saturday, and Air Force will square off against San Diego State Thursday night. 

Looking ahead, Army has pending games with both Air Force (Nov. 2) and Navy (Dec. 14). Navy beat Air Force last weekend, 28-10, in the first inter-service rivalry game of the 2013 season.

While Thursday's announcement is purely a stopgap for now, hope remains that the government will find a way to end the shutdown before the Pentagon's self-imposed Oct. 31 deadline. 


Follow B/R's Ethan Grant on Twitter.