October 3, 2013

Shutdown knocks out Merchant Marine game

More news about: Coast Guard | Merchant Marine | RPI
The Mariners will not be in uniform this weekend or as long as the political stalemate in Washington continues as is.
Merchant Marine athletics photo

By Pat Coleman
D3sports.com 

Although the Air Force-Navy game and the Army-Boston College game will go on as scheduled this weekend, the Merchant Marine Academy's game at RPI on Saturday has been called off because of the government shutdown.

The Division I academies are under the Department of Defense, while the Merchant Marine Academy is part of the Department of Transportation, and that's why the Mariners are sidelined right now.

"All the coaches are out furloughed and what's more all the faculty is," Mariners coach Mike Toop said. "They're not even having class at the academy. It's pretty disappointing."

Contacted with the help of Twitter because he couldn't check his government voice mail or email, Toop said it wasn't feasible to fund the trip to Troy, N.Y., out of non-appropriated funds because none of the coaches are even on campus. "There's a bunch of red tape that would need to happen. Because we’re furloughed we couldn’t coach if we wanted to. We asked if we could volunteer and we couldn’t even do that because we were told it was against the law."

For now, the Mariners are doing captains' practices, without coaches present. Toop is relying on his 21-man senior class to keep the kids focused and on the field regularly. It's been a successful season for Merchant Marine so far, as the team has gotten off to a 3-1 start and played credibly in a 24-8 loss to No. 7 Hobart last week.

"The guys are really disappointed because they wanted to play this week," Toop said. "I've got just a tremendous group of seniors and I feel bad for them because I know this is their last year."

The Coast Guard Academy will be playing this weekend, and at home in that, as the Bears host Western New England. The Coast Guard is part of the Department of Homeland Security and Coast Guard coaches also teach classes on campus, so they are deemed essential personnel. There's more detail on Coast Guard in an AP story.

Officially termed postponed, the game could be made up Nov. 2, as the teams have a mutual bye week. However, that is a final exam week at Merchant Marine, a weekend on which the Mariners have traditionally not scheduled a game.

Merchant Marine is scheduled to travel to the University of Rochester next week.

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