Army Ignored Underage Drinking to Win Over Football Recruits

By Victoria Kim 10/28/14

Army officials turned a blind eye to potential players drinking underage while on a recruiting trip.

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The U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. picked up a warning this month from the NCAA, spurred by an investigation that uncovered misconduct involving football recruits, primarily underage drinking.

West Point began investigating recruiting misdeeds in March, despite the incident in question taking place in January. On January 24, the Army football team hosted fourteen recruits. The recruits, high school athletes, were chauffeured in a charter bus with full police escort to the Palisades Mall in West Nyack, escorted by members of the Army football team designated as “cadet hosts” and two “Rabble Rouser” cheerleaders.

After the mall, the group descended on a bowling alley which the report, written by Lt. Col. Shannon Miller, noted was known for turning a blind eye to underage drinking. There, the recruits were allowed to drink using booster money allocated for the evening, which was used to purchase alcohol.

West Point claimed that it has no record of how much money was spent or how it was spent that night. Miller, an aviator assigned to West Point, was ordered to investigate the recruiting allegations by the school’s commandant of cadets, Brig. Gen. Richard Clarke.

The party continued on the bus ride home, during which the bus driver allowed “the music to play very loudly,” there was “dancing in the aisles,” and “strobe lights flashing iPhones to reflect the club-like atmosphere,” according to Miller’s report.

The report also noted the presence of the two female cheerleaders, who began making out on the bus, also kissing a football player and a recruit. This is reportedly not the first time the academy has enlisted the help of women to woo recruits. No West Point officers were present on the night, according to the report.

Twenty cadets were disciplined for promoting underage drinking. The academy self-reported the violations to the NCAA and received a warning this month. A first-year coach involved in the incident, Jeff Monken—who the report found had known of the incident within days but did not inform West Point leaders or the NCAA of the misconduct—will be suspended if similar violations occur.

The report found that the outing for recruits to the Palisades Mall with full police escort started over a decade ago under former Army coach Bobby Ross. In September, the academy established new guidelines for recruit visits, including the rule that an officer must be present at all times.

“It is important that our service academies continue to focus on providing world class educations and developing the next generation of elite military leaders,” said U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs, who serves on the Air Force Academy Board of Visitors. Lamborn encouraged other service academies, including the Air Force Academy and Naval Academy, to review their own athletic programs and the conduct of players.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr