(USA Today) --The Department of Defense suspended all intercollegiate athletics contests at Air Force, Army and Navy on Tuesday because of the federal government shutdown, putting academy officials in a holding pattern with regard to football games scheduled for Saturday.
While some events in other sports were already canceled, Navy officials said a decision would be made by noon ET Thursday whether Saturday's sold-out football game against Air Force in Annapolis, Md., could be played.
If the Congressional budget impasse is going to extend through the weekend, the game would likely be postponed, a person with knowledge of the decision process told USA TODAY Sports. The person requested anonymity because they were not cleared to speak publicly.
Army's scheduled game at Boston College is also in doubt. Boston College athletics director Brad Bates said in a statement the school was in communication with Army officials and would "exhaust all possibilities to play the game."
Though Air Force and Navy proceeded with practice Tuesday as if the game were going to be played, nearly all civilian academy employees at Air Force - including the sports information department and much of the athletics administration - were sent home. As a result, Air Force coach Troy Calhoun's weekly news conference was cancelled, even though coaches were exempt from the furloughs.
One possibility being explored, according to the person who spoke to USA TODAY Sports, is whether Air Force could use private funds - perhaps through the Mountain West Conference office - to make the trip and keep the game on schedule.
In an e-mail Tuesday afternoon, Air Force associate athletics director Troy Garnhart said the academy would attempt to play home contests in all sports, but that those could be canceled as well. Garnhart said the school would work with the conference office, opponents and the Department of the Air Force to make up as many lost games as possible. Navy canceled Tuesday's soccer game against Howard, and Army canceled its women's soccer game Wednesday against Colgate.
If the football games are postponed, Air Force and Navy would both have an opening on Dec. 7 to possibly reschedule. Navy is off from Nov. 22 until Dec. 14 when it plays Army, and Air Force's season will conclude Nov. 30 barring an appearance in the Mountain West championship game. Given the Falcons' 0-4 league record, they are almost certain not to qualify.
CBS, which is supposed to broadcast the Air Force-Navy game nationally on its over-the-air network (kickoff is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. ET), was "working on alternate programming in the event the game is not played," spokeswoman Jen Sabatelle said in an email.