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Navy-Air Force game Saturday a ‘go’ despite shutdown

Army, Boston College also will play; other sports called off for now

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After two days of furious lobbying by the academies, Navy and Air Force will be allowed to play football Saturday in Annapolis as scheduled.

Shortly before 10 p.m. Wednesday, Navy announced Saturday's game was a "go." It will kick off at 11:40 a.m. before a record crowd at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium and a national television audience on CBS.

Saturday's Army-Boston College game also will proceed as scheduled, B.C. announced Thursday morning.

"I'm thrilled our students and those from the service academies will get to play their games this weekend," B.C. athletic director Brad Bates said. "Thank you, fans, for your patience and understanding the past couple of days."

Navy announced Thursday morning that all other varsity and club sporting events at the academy had been canceled through Sunday by the Department of Defense.

But the football game was the primary concern in Annapolis.

Navy is expecting a crowd of about 38,000 for the game at a stadium that officially holds 34,000. In addition to facing off against one of its two biggest rivals, Navy will use the day to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1963 team, which quarterback Roger Staubach led to a No. 2 national ranking.

The game had been in limbo since the government shut down and the Department of Defense handed down an edict suspending athletic competition at the service academies.

Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk said Tuesday that both academies were working to ensure private funding would make up for any government expenses that would have been incurred to play the game. Those mostly would have been on Air Force's end, as Navy's athletic association is a non-profit that is not a part of the academy or the federal government.

"One thing that we've done is we've illustrated clearly that absolutely no government funding is used for any purpose regarding Navy football," Gladchuk said Tuesday. "It's a completely self-funded entity, so therefore there's no pressure at all on government funding to support it. Air Force may have an issue with some dimension of the travel being government-funded, but I know that they're looking at the possibility of gift funds or non-government funding to cover those costs as well.

"So I think if both of us can illustrate that it has absolutely no impact on the government financially that we might be granted a reprieve."

Navy and Air Force had said a call would be made on their game by noon Thursday so Air Force would have time to finalize its travel arrangements.

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