Service academies get OK to play

WASHINGTON -- Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has decided that football games and other sports will go on at the service academies this weekend and continue through the end of the month despite the government shutdown.

Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren said that Hagel will reassess the issue later this month if Congress still has not passed a budget to fund the federal government.

Warren said Hagel consulted with Pentagon lawyers and military leaders, and that the academies could have faced fines if games were canceled.

The regular season runs through early December. Army and Navy play their traditional rivalry game Dec. 14.

Last week the Pentagon allowed the academies to play their weekend games. Officials at the schools were hopeful games would go on this weekend and prepared as if they would.

But Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk said earlier this week he was still providing information to Pentagon officials that showed no government funds would be used for Navy to play its game at Duke, and that the school would be breaking a contract by not playing the game. A Navy spokesman said earlier Thursday that the Midshipmen were scheduled to travel to Durham, N.C., on Friday.

Also Saturday, Army hosts Eastern Michigan.

Game expenses are largely paid for with funds that come from outside sources and are not approved through Congress.

Air Force announced Wednesday that its game Thursday night against San Diego State would be played. Air Force had to postpone some Mountain West women's volleyball and soccer matches last weekend.