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Sports

Federal shutdown imperils Army’s visit to BC

Political football may sack Eagles

The Department of Defense ordered the suspension of intercollegiate activities at the three service academies, threatening the postponement or cancellation of the Army-BC game.

AP/File

The Department of Defense ordered the suspension of intercollegiate activities at the three service academies, threatening the postponement or cancellation of the Army-BC game.

Boston College is scheduled to celebrate homecoming this weekend.

Alums are invited back to The Heights to take part in activities that include the induction of this year’s class into the Varsity Club Hall of Fame and the silver anniversary reunion of the 1988 BC football team that defeated Army in Dublin.

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The highlight was expected to be the Eagles’ 1 p.m. game against Army at Alumni Stadium.

But no one imagined the gridlock in the nation’s Capitol would have consequences on the college gridiron. After the federal government was shut down Monday at midnight, the Department of Defense on Tuesday ordered the suspension of intercollegiate activities at the three service academies, threatening the postponement or cancellation of the Army-BC game.

“You know, whenever you work in higher education, you’re trying to anticipate all the scenarios, so you’re prepared for it,’’ said BC athletic director Brad Bates.

Bates wasn’t aware, however, until Tuesday morning when he had the first of many conversations with Army AD Boo Corrigan about the game being in peril.

“I didn’t realize the magnitude of it and that there was a scant of concern it might have some implications,’’ Bates said.

Bates, who was attending the Atlantic Coast Conference’s fall meetings in Raleigh, N.C., said no deadlines have been set.

“There’s been no development other than the fact that I’ve been talking to Army’s AD regularly and he’s been terrific through the whole process,’’ Bates said.

“I don’t know all the details of what’s going on, internally, in terms of the decision, so I don’t know what deadlines [there are at Army], but we haven’t set any deadlines to make a decision.”

Asked if one of the options BC had explored was to offer to pay Army’s travel expenses to Chestnut Hill, Bates said no.

“Actually, it’s not a financial issue,” Bates said. “We’ve been doing everything we can to exhaust all possibilities to make sure we play the game on Saturday.’’

A Pentagon spokesman, Army Colonel Steve Warren, said lawyers were considering a series of legal questions, including whether money that comes from sources other than Congress could be used to pay for sports during the shutdown.

During the six-day government shutdown in November 1995, Army, Navy, and Air Force played football games — all at home.

The Department of Defense’s decision to play political football with its service academies resulted in the cancellation of the Army men’s soccer game against Long Island University and the Navy men’s soccer game against Howard on Tuesday.

It also left in limbo Navy’s huge sold-out home football game Saturday against Air Force, which was to be televised by CBS Sports.

Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk, who held the same post at BC from 1990-97, told the Baltimore Sun a decision on Saturday’s game likely would not be made until Thursday afternoon. But, he added, there remained the real possibility the game could be canceled or postponed.

“It’s going to be a setback of the highest order if this game doesn’t happen,’’ said Gladchuk.

Army and Navy’s football teams did practice Tuesday.

Gladchuk estimated a postponement or cancellation of Air Force-Navy would cost the Naval Academy and the Annapolis, Md., business community millions of dollars in lost revenue.

It is likely BC and the neighboring communities would experience similar economic fallout if the Army game is canceled.

“Well, we’re exploring all our options if we have to cross that bridge, at this point in time let’s hope we don’t have to,’’ Bates said.

“As any good administration should be doing, you’re always anticipating the possibilities.’’

The rescheduling of a game would be problematic for both teams since the first mutually open date is Dec. 7. The week before, BC plays its last regular-season game, at Syracuse, while Army plays in Hawaii. The Army-Navy game is Dec. 14.

If the game were to be forfeited, Bates was asked if the game would count toward BC’s bowl eligibility.

“That’s one of the questions we’ve asked for an interpretation of, if that’s the scenario that unfolds, but that’s the last thing we want,’’ Bates said.

“Ultimately, we want to give our students and their students the opportunity to play a football game and for our fans to enjoy that experience.’’

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report. Michael Vega can be reached at vega@globe.com.
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