The U.S. Air Force Academy has launched an investigation of its athletic department following reports by the Colorado Springs Gazette that cadet athletes have flouted the academy’s “sacred honor code by committing sexual assaults, taking drugs, cheating and engaging in other misconduct at wild parties”. Referring to hundreds of pages of documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, The Gazette revealed details on parties dating to 2010 and 2011 where cadets, including a core group of top football players, smoked synthetic marijuana, drank themselves sick and may have used date-rape drugs to incapacitate women for sexual assault.
Acknowledging “troubling behavior“ by some athletes and other cadets, Lt. Gen. Michelle D. Johnson, the academy’s superintendent, announced that the academy has launched an investigation and is demanding more accountability from coaches in view of of lax oversight. The academy inspector general’s office will look into the athletic department to determine whether sports programs promote the school’s ideals. Johnson said three cadets were court-martialed, convicted and expelled — two football players and a female basketball player. Five other athletes received administrative punishment that resulted in expulsion, and six cadets resigned.
“The culture was so wild that academy leaders canceled a planned 2012 sting out of concern that undercover agents and confidential informants at a party wouldn’t be enough to protect women from rape,” writes The Gazette. The papers’ investigation also found that athletes cheated on tests, and in one instance, an economics professor created a special course for two basketball players – and taught it around their game and practice schedules.
The findings are egregious enough that academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson told The Gazette that she has called for an Inspector General’s investigation of the athletic department. “These efforts will help in eliminating subcultures … whose climates do not align with our institutional core values,” she said in a statement released Thursday exclusively to The Gazette. Johnson said the academy has taken steps to correct the problems within the athletic department. “Despite all of our efforts, I expect we’ll still have issues with a few young people who will make poor choices,” she wrote.
This article was republished with permission from the editor and the publisher of the Sport Intern, Karl-Heinz Huba.