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Navy-Air Force football may be postponed

– The Department of Defense has suspended all intercollegiate athletics at the service academies because of the government shutdown, Navy announced in a statement released Tuesday.

The status of Navy’s football game on Saturday morning against Air Force in Annapolis, Md., remains in doubt. Midshipmen spokesman Scott Strasemeier said in the statement that a decision on whether to postpone the game will be made before noon Thursday.

“At this stage we’re taking it basically a half a day at a time, holding our breath that they can bring it to resolution,” Navy Athletic Director Chet Gladchuk said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “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 Navy athletic department officials have said they are anticipating a record crowd at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium for the nationally televised first leg of the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy. The Midshipmen won back the CIC last year after Air Force claimed it the previous two.

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.

Army’s game at Boston College on Saturday also is up in the air.

The shutdown could alter how Notre Dame’s football schedule looks at the end of October and start of November.

The Irish are scheduled to play at Air Force on Oct. 26 and against Navy on Nov. 2 at home.

Coach Brian Kelly said Tuesday that the situation has been brought to his attention, but he isn’t aware of any plans for those games if they need to be postponed or canceled.

“We will find out more information and then get back with you folks,” Kelly said.

If the games against Air Force and Navy need to be replaced on short notice, Kelly said the Irish would not be looking to fill the slot with an FCS opponent.

“Oh, I’d love to look at an FCS opponent,” Kelly said with a laugh. “I would be one vote in a room with a lot of probably nos. I probably know how that’s going to go.”

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. Falcons Coach Troy Calhoun and most of his staff are exempt and would be able to travel for the game, but there is some question over whether its players would be allowed to travel to the game.

In a statement posted on the school’s athletics website, Air Force said “at this time, travel for all intercollegiate athletics is cancelled – this includes the Air Force-Navy game on Saturday, 5 Oct.”

Journal Gazette staff writer Tony Krausz contributed to this story.