Air Force will not travel to the Brickyard Collegiate Championship this weekend because of the federal government shutdown, although the U.S. service academies will play football game this weekend as scheduled.
According to head coach George Koury, it’s the biggest tournament of the year for the Falcons as some of the top teams in the nation will be there.
Air Force tried every possible scenario to make the tournament in Macon, Ga. Private funds were trying to be used, and other coaches and programs offered to help out with expenses for the tournament, but nothing worked out.
The decision was made at about 4:30 p.m. MDT Wednesday that the Falcons would not make the trip.
It reportedly wasn’t well received by the players. With the government shut down, Koury is prohibited from interaction with his players because he is a government employee. He could tell them only that the team wasn’t going to the Brickyard.
Koury and the team had discussed what would happen during practice sessions and workouts on Oct. 1 when the coaches had only four hours with the team before he was on furlough.
He is utilizing his volunteer assistant coach, who is not employed by the government, and his team captain to keep daily practice sessions going.
The team’s next tournament is the Bill Ross Invitational in Kansas City, Mo., on Oct. 14-15. The team is supposed to leave Oct. 12.
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When one door closes, another door opens.
Army will host the Stars and Stripes Invitational on Oct. 5-6 at West Point Golf Course. It was touch and go for a while for the Black Knights.
It even went as far as Army head coach Brian Watts emailing all the teams and saying the tournament had been canceled. Three hours later, he got the good news that his team could hold and participate in the golf tournament. Luckily, after the 10 teams in the competition canceled their flights and hotel reservations, they were able to re-book accommodations.
Funds might be tight for the tournament, but the most important thing to Watts is that the teams coming to the tournament learn more about Army and what these student-athletes do for their country.
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Navy is supposed to play in the Wolfpack Invitational on Oct. 7-8, but team officials could not be reached for comment about whether the team will participate.
A general statement posted on the Navy athletics website read: “The Department of Defense has canceled all Naval Academy varsity and club sports through Sunday as a result of the government shutdown.
Navy and Air Force have received approval from the Department of Defense to play Saturday’s football game at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Kickoff is set for 11:40 a.m. and the game will be televised nationally by CBS.”
The tournament starts Monday, but the team would have to leave Saturday for the practice round Sunday.