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Air Force athletics program under investigation

Published On: Aug 06 2014 11:06:01 AM CDT
Updated On: Aug 01 2014 07:19:14 PM CDT
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -

The Air Force Academy's superintendent has ordered an investigation into the academy's athletics program in response to a newspaper's questions about player misconduct.

The Gazette said Friday it's planning to publish a report on Sunday outlining how a group of athletes was investigated by Air Force officials after allegations of sexual assault and drug use at a party in December 2011. Details of the allegations have not been released.
    
Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson told the newspaper this week she has asked the academy's inspector general to review the athletics department.
    
Meanwhile, The Gazette reports academy spokesman David Cannon sent an email to community leaders, parents of cadets, politicians and boosters Thursday alerting them of "troubling" behavior in the football program that might be outlined in Sunday's story.

The Academy sent the following statement from Lt. Gen. Johnson to KRDO NewsChannel 13:

A 2011 - 2012 investigation stemming from a party in December 2011 led to the disenrollment and prosecution of several intercollegiate, as well as other, cadets.  This past behavior was troubling and suggested certain subcultures that were inconsistent with the Culture of Commitment and Climate of Respect we work hard to uphold at USAFA.

In part, recognition of this prior misconduct has caused us to refocus on our culture and climate.  Since my arrival a year ago, we’ve taken a number of actions across the campus with the objective to even more deeply engrain a culture consistent with our core values.   This past year I realigned a senior position to work directly for me as the sole point of contact for culture, climate and diversity issues.  This office is aligning and monitoring our cultural sensors across the installation.  Furthermore, I, along with my senior staff, have continued to emphasize accountability not just with the cadets, but with the permanent party. 

I’ve personally visited the Athletic Department on several occasions to meet with the coaches and administrators to communicate my expectations and to highlight their important role in cadet development.  The Athletic Department has responded.  They’ve implemented several programs to ensure all cadet-athletes are living up to the Air Force’s core values.  They established the Respect and Character Enrichment (RACE) committee that meets weekly to ensure teams and athletes are living up to our expectations.  They recently sponsored a “Mentors in Violence Prevention Program” that included a seminar to over 120 athletes, including the football team, on gender violence.  Additionally, as part of the new AF-wide Commander’s Inspector General (IG) program, I’ve asked the USAFA IG to start their review of the Mission Elements with the Athletic Department.  These efforts will help in eliminating subcultures at the Air Force’s Academy whose climates do not align with our institutional core values. 

A positive example of how the cadets are living up to the culture we expect includes a recently self-produced Cadet Athletes against Sexual Violence video. It shows our athletes making a pledge that they’ll take action to stop sexual violence.  I also met with the Football Leadership Council last spring and am encouraged that they are taking ownership of their team’s climate. 

Despite all of our efforts, I expect we’ll still have issues with a few young people who will make poor choices.  However, I continue to pledge transparency and an emphasis on cadet development that provides the right culture and climate so that we can remain focused on the development of all 4,000 cadets and our bright future.     

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