Recently, I have had a number of questions sent to me pertaining to a wide array of topics that I thought might be of interest to our Navy Sports family at large. Normally, I answer these questions specific to the individual, but because the topics are timely, I felt I would send the information to everyone in hopes for a more comprehensive understanding of what is happening and the latest on certain issues. Below are a number of questions that I've answered and hopefully it will bring a greater degree of clarity as we operate under continuing and difficult COVID conditions.
1. Why is the Army-Navy game being played at West Point?
We worked with the City of Philadelphia and the State of Pennsylvania for a number of months trying to navigate the pandemic. We were hopeful that there would be relief with regard to attendance, not only with the Corps of Cadets and Brigade of Midshipmen, but also with some number of fans being accommodated. As recently as a week ago, government officials would not allow even the full attendance of both Academies. Expecting this might be the case, we have been investigating possibilities from New York to Washington at an NFL venue that could host the game at a neutral site. As it turns out, every stadium on the I-95 corridor has attendance limitations as well and could not host the game.
Each year Army and Navy alternate being the host institution. 2020 is Army's year in the cycle to act as the host to administer the game. They would have been responsible for all game day logistics even if we played in Philadelphia. Because it is their year to host, Army is entitled to conduct the event under these extraordinary conditions at Michie Stadium. Therefore, we will be traveling to West Point. Although the game will be played at their site, every aspect of the contest will be conducted as though it was a neutral venue with exactly the same number of admissions for both Academies. If we are granted the opportunity to include some number of the public, the tickets for each of our fans would be divided equitably as well. Obviously, if the same challenge were to surface in 2021, the game would then be held in Annapolis. Be reminded that next year, we are scheduled to play in the Meadowlands.
2. Any chance Navy season ticket holders will be allowed to attend any home football games this season?
As of today, that being the 1st of November, and with the outlook in our community not very encouraging, I don't anticipate the Governor, County Commissioner, or the Mayor allowing for fans for the remainder of the season. We only have two home games left and the influence of COVID on so many fronts simply won't allow for the accommodations we all hoped might have happened.
3. Can a fourth option regarding Army-Navy refunds be to apply my funds to my 2021 Blue & Gold membership?
Regarding Blue & Gold, contact our administrators directly and ask them to make that transaction for you. Both Kyle Knichel (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Terence Mcgowan (email@example.com) oversee the Blue & Gold operation, and they work closely with Matt Munnelly (firstname.lastname@example.org) who heads up ticketing. It's an internal transaction, so I see no reason why what you suggest can't be accomplished.
4. What is the NAAA doing to retain the staff during these difficult financial times?
There are many significant expenses that are associated with administering an intercollegiate program at our level and based on the size of our organization. Our revenue streams have been either limited or non-existent since last March. Granted it is a very challenging time to be a 501c3 self-sustaining business operation during a financial crisis of this significance. However, as we minimize expenses and revenue falls short, we are still committed to sustaining 33 varsity sports and retaining the championship caliber staff we have comprised over the years. The NAAA has always been focused on being the most successful athletic program in our leagues or conferences. Even though a pandemic has imposed itself on our operations in a very significant way, we are making every effort to make it through this difficult period and still emerge with our championship vision intact. It has been very trying for everyone affiliated with the NAAA, however, as rabid competitors and winners, we will persevere and find a way to put the program back on track with our continued "expect to win" mindset.
5. How are the midshipmen holding up with regard to the limited scheduling and in some cases no scheduled contests at all?
I have a tremendous sense of appreciation and pride in the way our coaches and midshipmen have handled the adversity brought on by the pandemic. All of our teams have stayed together and continue to practice and prepare for what will eventually be a season of competition. There still remains much uncertainty, especially in the Patriot League, with regard to winter and spring sports, but even in spite of when or even if we compete this spring, our midshipmen continue to prepare in all aspects of physical conditioning and training. They will be ready once future scheduling decisions have been made. Again, I am extremely proud of the morale, determination, and sense of unity that all of our teams have displayed at this point.
6. Do you think that the Academy will offer a summer camp program this year?
At this point, the local communities are allowing for more youth activities to re-engage. If the Academy is allowed to accommodate the public with meals, housing, and fields, starting this June we will reinstitute the full breadth of our summer camp program. The administration is working daily to prepare for what we expect to be all summer camp offerings, and if given the green light to move forward, we will be prepared to do so. As of today, let's anticipate that the summer camp program will be in operation, and I would suggest parents begin to review the offerings on our website as available.
7. After five years as a member in the AAC, how do you feel football is doing with regard to competition and our national stature?
My first reaction is we are all relieved that despite the pandemic, the AAC was successful in putting all the medical protocols and safety conditions in place to allow the season to happen. Obviously, there were some conferences that decided not to compete, however, the AAC prevailed through diligence, foresight, responsibility, and concern for the welfare of every student-athletes. It was a challenging exercise to bring confidence in the minds of conference presidents to allow us to move forward with the 2020 football schedule. It's evident today that despite even the most challenging geographic COVID concerns, each institution has illustrated very defensible protection for both the players and the staff. Although we have had some games cancelled or postponed, the majority of conference play continues under proven to be safe conditions.
Specific to your questions, Navy has fared extremely well over the five years we have been a member of the AAC. We are ranked 3rd in the conference with total wins over that period of time (30) with only Temple and Memphis winning more games (31). In addition, over the last five years, Navy has appeared as a Top 25 Program in the national polls 17 times. Also, we have had the Player of the Year and the Coach of the Year four times collectively over the period. There isn't anyone on our conference schedule that has achieved much greater Bowl success than we have as well. In our business, we often lose sight of the bigger picture because we focus on just the next game. But, keep in mind that although we are finding some challenges in 2020, just last year we were 11-2 and ended the year at #20 in the nation and beat Kansas State in the Liberty Bowl. Many good things have come our way over the last five years as a result of the AAC, and as long as we continue to resource as appropriate and stay committed as an administration and an institution, we will give our players and coaches every chance to remain a respected and successful program with both conference and national stature.