While college football continues to reel from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, and the entire season hangs in limbo, Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk told ESPN on Monday he's determined to play the Army-Navy game if possible.
"If there's only one game we're going to play," he said, "It's the Army-Navy game. Unless the pandemic is such at the time that we're precluded by the city of Philadelphia to play that game, we have every intention of playing Army-Navy.
"The game is already virtually sold out," he said. "Can we accommodate that number? I don't know. We always look at it this way -- including Notre Dame on Labor Day weekend -- we're preparing for scenarios and we can always back down if we have to. Good old-fashioned ticket refund. Everybody does it. If we have to give money back, we give money back, but at least we're prepared, right now on the front side."
The Army-Navy game, presented by USAA, is scheduled to take place at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia on Dec. 12. Navy's football team, which is a member of the American Athletic Conference, is still waiting on that league to make a decision about the fate of fall sports. AAC commissioner Mike Aresco told ESPN in a recent interview that while other conferences have considered pushing back their championship games, the AAC can't do that if Navy is in contention because it would conflict with the date of the Army-Navy game.
"We're looking all of the alternatives right now," Aresco said, noting the league's current position is to play a full 12-game schedule if possible. "We think the time frame is three weeks to make a decision about starting the season and what kind of schedule we would have, whether we would do the 10-game, round-robin conference schedule, we could do that. Or do you do a hybrid ... if other conferences are willing to play nonconference games, we think they'll probably want to play us." The Midshipmen have already one major change to their schedule.
Notre Dame announced last month its season-opening game against Navy, originally scheduled to be played in Dublin on Aug. 29, was moved to Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. The game will now likely be played on Labor Day weekend -- if possible.
"Still expect to play it," Gladchuk said, "but we've got that socially distanced, about 30% of the stadium, so we've got it going on both ends and we just have to wait and see how it plays out. We're doing the same thing everyone else is -- planning within the guidelines and within the expectation the pandemic brings, we're planning to move forward as best we can."