Athletic teams at Air Force attempt to grasp shutdown restrictions

By Brent Briggeman Published: October 4, 2013 | 7:53 am 0

Dave Pilipovich was taking inventory of all the things his men's basketball program could do during the government shutdown. Among them was traveling for recruiting.

Or was it?

"Hey, can we still travel for recruiting?" the Air Force coach shouted down the hall to an assistant.

"Yes," was the reply.

"OK, we can travel," Pilipovich said.

That pretty well summed up the uncertain mood at the academy Tuesday. Many coaches and staff members packed to leave for an undetermined amount of time and those left behind scrambled to figure out how which resources remained at their disposal.

Athletic travel is off until further notice, which for now has Saturday's football game at Navy all but canceled pending an effort to scrape together non-military, non-government funds.

The academy will "try" to put on home games, but the situations will be difficult as head coaches in most sports and their assistants are not eligible to work until the shutdown ends. Beyond that, there will be little to no administrative assistance as those employees are gone as well.

"Most of them have volunteer coaches and maybe other members of their staff who are military personnel," sports information director Troy Garnhart said. "Those are the kind of issues they're working."

Women's basketball coach Andrea Williams is down to one full-time assistant and one military-appointed assistant who must shuffle time between teaching and coaching.

"It's interesting, but we'll make do," Williams said.

The men's basketball team is without just one assistant and its strength-and-conditioning coach, so the workouts will be handled by the staff.

With the first game more than a month away, the hope is that the situation will be resolved prior to the start of the season. However, a prolonged shutdown could lead to recruiting complications with workers in admissions unavailable.

"Maybe our recruits may panic a little bit, say 'Where's my paperwork? Where do we go? How does this affect what you're doing there?'" Pilipovich said. "We just want everyone to know they can take a deep breath and know that we'll put a plan in place."

Air Force hockey's two nonconference games in the Kendall Classic tournament, Oct. 11-12 in Anchorage, Alaska, may not be played.

Monday's 6:05 p.m. home exhibition game against New Brunswick is still scheduled.

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