Army offensive linesman Zach Reichert (75) and the other Black Knights stand at attention during the playing of the academy's school song after their game against Louisiana Tech in Dallas on Sept. 28. Army won 35-16. (Tony Gutierrez / AP)
WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has decided that football games and other sports will go on at the military service academies this weekend, and continue through the end of the month, despite the government shutdown.
Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren says that Hagel will reassess the issue later this month if Congress has still not passed a budget to fund the federal government.
Warren says that Hagel consulted with Pentagon lawyers and military leaders. He says the academies could have faced fines if the games were canceled.
The regular football season runs through the early December. Army and Navy play their traditional rivalry game on 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.
The games are largely paid for with funds that come from outside sources and are not approved through Congress.
Air Force announced yesterday that its football Mountain West Conference 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.
Army hosts Eastern Michigan in football on Saturday at West Point, N.Y. Army and Navy are independents in football, not members of a conference.
AP College Football Writer Ralph D. Russo in New York contributed.