COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Army football players lured prospective recruits with an alcohol-fueled bus trip earlier this year, and 20 cadets, two officers and two coaches have been disciplined, according to a report in the Gazette of Colorado Springs.
The U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, self-reported a recruiting violation to the NCAA, the newspaper said.
West Point spokeswoman Theresa Brinkerhoff said the academy didn’t publicly detail the incident because it was handled “administratively.” The academy was warned by the NCAA earlier this month, according to the paper’s report.
The academy began investigating the incidents in March, according to an internal review by Lt. Col. Shannon Miller, who was ordered to look into the allegations. Football coaches knew about the party but did not immediately tell academy leaders or the NCAA, her report said. The players were instead removed from the spring game.
The party reportedly involved 14 recruits who came to visit in January, and were given dinners and tours. They were escorted by members of the football team and two cheerleaders to a mall, and went by bus to a bowling alley with a reputation for overlooking underage drinking, the report said. There, the cadets ordered towers of beer and allowed the recruits to drink, and some cadets said they had seven drinks in 90 minutes.
The report also said a military police escort stayed with the bus and that booster money was allocated for the night out. Female athletes at the academy also have been asked to act as dinner dates for recruits, she said.
West Point told the NCAA two members of the football staff were removed from team activities for a week. The specific course of discipline against the players involved was not disclosed, but the football players involved were expected to play against Air Force next Saturday. Brinkerhoff said the punishments did not affect athletic eligibility.
“Although seen as a minor infraction by the NCAA, the U.S. Military Academy takes this very seriously and adjudicated this at the highest level of the disciplinary code,” West Point said in a statement.