Sometimes it pays to have friends in high places. And in the case of the United States Naval Academy, they can thank their relationship with New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and head coach Bill Belichick, both of whom have close ties to Annapolis.

The Patriots came to the aid of the Midshipmen football team this week. When the 40 annual college football bowl games were announced, it meant that 80 college football teams started scrambling to make flight and hotel reservations for their respective trips. In the case of Navy, they were scheduled to play in the Auto Zone Liberty Bowl in Memphis. 

Robb Dunn, the Naval Academy’s deputy director of athletics for administration, handles all of the logistics when the Midshipmen travel to away games. He knew that all flights, especially around Christmas, were going fast. Navy usually flies with Southwest Airlines; but Dunn knew that there were no planes available this time of year. 

Not much was available on short notice and those available were charging exorbitant prices for the flight. So that’s when Naval Academy’s Athletic Director Chet Gladchuk stepped in.