Service Academies Likely To Play Football After All


It looks like the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard academies will be playing football on Saturday after all:

The Air Force-Navy and Army-Boston College football games will be played Saturday after receiving official approval from the Secretary of Defense on Wednesday, a source told ESPN’s Brett McMurphy.

Naval Academy public information officer Commander John Schofield confirmed Wednesday night that the Midshipmen’s game would be played. Boston College athletic director Brad Bates indicated the same Thursday for the Eagles’ game against Army.

Both games were in jeopardy after the Defense Department temporarily suspended sports competition at the service academies as a result of the budget impasse in Congress.

A source had told McMurphy earlier Wednesday that the costs of the games would be completely taken care of by “nongovernment funding,” which generally comes from outside sources and is not approved through Congress. Because of that — and the fact that the games had long been planned — the teams will be permitted to play.

The football rivalry between Navy, which practiced Tuesday, and Air Force dates to 1960, and they have played each other every year since 1972. Saturday’s game is sold out.

Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk said earlier Wednesday that his athletic department had provided information to Pentagon officials to assure them that no government funds will be spent on any aspect of the game. Gladchuk said a Navy home game brings in about $4 million from tickets, sponsorship, television and radio rights fees, and other revenues such as parking and concessions. The game essentially pays for itself, he said.

Football revenue also funds Navy’s 32 other sports teams.

“It would be devastating to our budget,” Gladchuk said of having a home game canceled.

Bates indicated earlier Wednesday that the school offered financial assistance for Army’s travel arrangements.

“We have been considering and engaging all possibilities in order to play Saturday’s football game, including offering financial assistance to Army for travel,” Bates said in a statement before the secretary of defense’s approval. “We have been told by officials at the US Military Academy, however, that this is not solely a financial decision. I remain in close communication with Army AD Boo Corrigan and we expect a decision will be made by noon [Thursday].”

Meanwhile, Division III Coast Guard will play its home game against Western New England on Saturday as planned because coach Bill George and his staff are also faculty members and therefore exempt from the furloughs.

I suppose this will be good news to the fans and the players, although its hardly the most important line item in the DoD budget at the moment. I’d be curious to know what the source of the outside funding that will cover the academy’s costs for these games might be. Yesterday, there had been calls from many corners for the NCAA to cover the expenses for the schools.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    From James’ post this morn:

    In a letter sent Tuesday to Hagel, Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif., chairman of the House Armed Services committee, told Hagel that DOD civilians who are currently sitting at home are actually authorized to work by the new law.

    “I believe the legislation provides you broad latitude and I encourage you to use it,” McKeon wrote. “The text does not limit the provision of pay to civilians who were previously categorized by the Administration as ‘excepted’ or ‘essential’ … Therefore, I strongly encourage you to use the authority Congress has given you to keep national security running, rather than keeping defense civilians at home when they are authorized to work.”

    I would guess that “broad latitude” covered football too.

  2. bill says:

    this is all posing by the white house- trying to make waves by dousing high profile items like these games, the nfl for the troops and the war memorials. didn’t it take more labor to shut down the memorials than it does to staff them?!

  3. Just Me says:

    I read an article that said the military academies were already funded from outside-and had been. They were told they couldn’t play because the optics would look bad.

    I will see if I can find it after running the kids to school.

  4. Just Me says:

    Here you go:

    The money for those who aren’t interested in reading comes from ticket sales, booster club sales and apparently a huge chunk comes from TV contracts.

  5. Pat Coleman says: