Air Force Academy Hires Outside Firm to Review Athletics Programs

After a number of hazing incidents have come to light in the past year, the US Air Force Academy is enlisting an external agency to review its athletic programs, the school told SwimSwam Monday.

Last year, 11 Air Force swimmers were removed from the team in the wake of preliminary investigations into a hazing ritual that took place in September 2017; nine of those swimmers were removed midway through the WAC Championships.

Earlier this month, two of the swimmers involved, now seniors, were charged with the alleged violation of Article 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, or dereliction of duty, by “wrongfully and willfully fail[ing] to refrain from engaging in activities that constituted hazing” on September 29th, 2017.

Cadet 1st Class Lars Knutson and Cadet 1st Class Michael Hannigan will have hearings at the end of the month and in early October to determine if there is probable cause to support the charges and could face up to six years in prison if convicted.

The school gave SwimSwam the following statement on the senior swimmers:

“We can confirm that we charged two former members of the cadet men’s swim team and that some of those charges relate to allegations of hazing. The cadets are being charged under Article 81, Conspiracy, Article 92, Dereliction of Duty and Article 134, Obstruction of Justice. We also want to clarify, this is not the first time we’ve held a hearing for someone under any of these articles.  The maximum punishment for dereliction of duty is 6 months and total forfeitures of pay/allowances. For conspiracy to commit dereliction the maximum is another 6 months and total forfeitures of pay/allowances. Obstruction of justice carries a maximum sentence of 5 years confinement, dismissal, and total forfeitures of pay/allowances. If convicted of all three, these charges could result in a maximum punishment that would equal 6 years confinement, total forfeitures of pay/allowances and dismissal. We must emphasize again, though, that these are charges and the accused are innocent until proven guilty.”

However, the swim team incident was not the only one to make headlines last year. Members of the Air Force lacrosse team, including coaches, were suspended last October over similar allegations, though fewer details of their sanctions have been made public.

Thus, the school has now contracted Collegiate Sports Associates, a consulting firm specifically for NCAA Division I programs, to conduct a further review of its athletic department.

“We have hired an outside agency to review our athletic department programs. Collegiate Sports Associates was here last week and will make several visits to the Academy between now and mid-October. During the visits, they will talk to coaches and staff; current and former athletes; team captains and our Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC) Committee members –roughly 250 people in all. We are eagerly awaiting their report because we are committed to not only holding people accountable for this type of behavior, but we want to prevent it in the future.”

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aviatorfly

I don’t get the joy of hazing, especially the same-sex sexual stuff (they know they can’t do that stuff in front of a female; why would it be okay with a male??). Just stupid.

But, facing 6 years is ridiculous. These guys are getting thrown under the bus. If you’re going to charge them then you need to charge the 30 years of classes that did it before them. Throw them out of the Academy, but the prospect of jail is as stupid as the hazing itself.

Yozhik

You got it right. Freshmen have some idea of what is coming because of these “traditions”. And the only thing that helps them to go through this humiliation is the understanding that in a year they will be in the position of power and will be allowed to do the same thing to someone else who won’t retaliate because of the rules of this tradition. Some twisted psychological compensation that keeps newcomers quiet. The cruelty increases with each next cycle. Such “traditions” should be rooted out decisively.

RSkogg

The 5 years would be for obstruction of the investigation after the event. In a different article it stated that the two cadets that were being charged tried to sway the other cadet’s testimony. This is a big deal in the military. Honesty is the cornerstone of their organization.

Jay ryan

These students are in the AIR FORCE, not in an unruly sports dorm in the SEC!!! From what I’ve seen the way to get things done in the military is to issue an order. I suspect that Collegiate Sports Associates will remind the AFA administration about this fact.

swimmom

This is exactly right. Unless you were military or raised in a military family, it can be difficult to understand how critical the hierarchy is to the success of your unit, fighter wing, platoon, etc. They are charging them dereliction of duty – this is not a civilian case.

Oldbull

2017 was an abnormal year for deviant-hazing incidents. There were five hazing deaths per FBI stats and Time Magazine article. After 20 years in law enforcement, working a few sexual-deviant hazing investigations, I can guarantee you that if you worked one case, then you would be astonished by the immoral and savage behavior performed on individuals — solely for control and power. I don’t give a damn where it is. Anyone who tries to call this “tradition” is a flawed individual. To see this at a military academy (where you would expect a completely different level of maturity, scholarship, and morality…and then attempt to obstruct the investigation in my view should be mandatory jail…period. I was amazed working my first… Read more »

About Torrey Hart

Torrey Hart

Torrey is from Oakland, CA, and majors in Media Studies and American Studies at Claremont McKenna College. When she's not writing about swimming or baseball, you can probably find her listening to a podcast or in a pool ... and/or watching Seinfeld, which she just realized is funny.

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