Retired general's review clears athletic department

7/23/2004 - Air Force Falcons

AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- A review led by a retired
general has cleared the Air Force Academy's athletic department of
giving athletes special treatment to maintain winning records.

"I thought we would uncover some problems but we didn't," Gen.
Michael Ryan said Friday.

A review of the athletic department was ordered as part of a
top-to-bottom examination of the academy after female cadets
reported being punished for reporting sexual assaults. Questions
had arisen about the handling of discipline in cases involving

Critics also questioned why the athletic department, rather than
the academy, handled some discipline of athletes.

Ryan told the academy's oversight board, called the Board of
Visitors, that some changes should be made. Most notably, he said,
the practice of excusing some athletes from interviews with
selection officers should end. The interviews are part of the
admissions process to the academy.

Nevertheless, Ryan said, "the Air Force Academy's admissions
process does not give undue emphasis to recruiting." He said 16
percent of the academy's cadets were recruited as athletes.

He said there was no statistically significant difference in the
academic success of athletes compared with non-athletes, and they
do about as well in their Air Force careers, too.

Last year's football team had a grade point average of 2.7, a
high rate for an academy with such stringent standards, said Lt.
Gen. John Rosa, academy superintendent.

"They want to win as much as any other team but they want to do
it the right way," said Brig. Gen. Johnny Weida, cadet commandant.

No mention was made during the meeting of four cadets, including
two athletes, who face charges involving illegal steroids. Rosa
told reporters there was no hint of any athletic department
involvement in the cases.

"Our investigation did not show widespread use," he added.

During a news conference, former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, who
chairs the Board of Visitors, credited Rosa's administration for
dealing openly with the steroid problem and sexual assaults.

Ryan's commission also recommended returning the athletic
director to independent status, reporting directly to Rosa. Earlier
this year the athletic director was put under the control of Weida,
Rosa's No. 2. Ryan said Weida was too busy to handle athletics. The
Air Force Secretary will make the final decision on the

Earlier, Rosa's staff released the first survey of academy staff
since the school's sex scandal erupted a year ago. The survey found
strong support for the presence of female cadets, but also a
reluctance to report sexual assaults.

The survey of 1,846 staff, military and civilian, or 58 percent
of staff, found that 17 sexual assaults had occurred but only eight
were reported. No information was made on the anonymous reports.

Rosa pointed out that the reporting percentage was three times
higher than the national average of 16 percent but not good enough.
Surveys of cadets have found a similar reluctance to report sexual

The survey of staff found that 95.6 percent believed women were
effective members of the academy. Eighty-two percent said they
strongly supported changes made to end a climate that contributed
to sexual assault.

Eighty-two percent also said they believed cadets were cynical
about the changes.

Rosa said a Defense Department survey of attitudes of cadets at
all three military academies will be distributed to commanders

Rosa was brought in as superintendent in an ouster of top
commanders after female cadets complained they had been punished
for reporting sexual assaults. Investigators said there were 143
sexual assaults between 1993-2003.