Report: US Army plans to enlist college athletes | SehndeWeb

Desperate to meet recruiting goals and faced with a dwindling population of Americans eligible for service, the U.S. military is considering an initiative to fund thousands of college athletic scholarships in exchange for compulsory service for student athletes, according to an exclusive investigative report by Sportico.

The proposal, which Defense Department leaders and elected officials have reportedly discussed for months, aims to address the military’s ongoing recruiting problems by tapping into the vast pool of healthy and physically fit young Americans. of the National Collegiate Athletic Association to bolster the ranks of the armed forces. . (A 2018 independent study by the nonpartisan Council for a Strong America found that approximately 71% of Americans between the ages of 17 and 24 are unqualified for military service, with obesity being the leading factor at 31% potential disqualifications.)

As reported by Sportico, the idea was pitched to military officials by Dave Maloney – a former Auburn University varsity athlete turned military contractor, whose Orchestra Macrosystems struck a lucrative deal with the Air Force. The so-called Scholar-Athlete Intelligence and Leadership Program (SAIL-P), Maloney says, not only aims to provide DOD with a steady stream of recruits, but could also save varsity athletics threatened with elimination due to budget cuts – programs Sportico calls “non-paying teams,” such as tennis, wrestling, and lacrosse. (The NCAA’s football and basketball programs would be exempt from the proposal.) Maloney touted his recruiting concept as a “21st century service path.”

The NCAA regulates the number of scholarships schools can award to student-athletes, and each sport has its own scholarship limit. Data published by Sportico reveals that schools can only offer 10 scholarships to male swimmers and divers, despite an average organizational size of around 28 athletes. For women’s softball, only 12 scholarships are available for a roster of approximately 23 players. SAIL-P, according to Maloney, would allow schools to fill these scholarship gaps to fund thousands more varsity athletes – however, as Sportico notes, a school is unlikely to be willing to violate NCAA regulations.

In an interview, Maloney claimed that he and a team of paid advisers including several retired high-ranking military leaders had already pitched the idea to many Pentagon officials as well as most members of the Senate Committee on Force. armies, among others. An email provided by Maloney from James Seacord, acting director of the DOD’s Office of Human Capital Management, praised the concept, saying it could “identify potential beneficiaries who have sports star potential. , but who also have high aptitudes and interests in the things we care about (on the civilian side), especially foreign language, STEM and cyber.(The military has amplified its efforts to target recruits on technology in recent years, going so far as to create an Army esports team in 2018 after the service fell short of its recruiting goals that year. the Air Force soon followed.)

An NCAA spokesperson, however, said Sportico that the organization was unaware of the proposal and declined further comment. Those who spoke officially with the publication offered mixed reviews of the proposed recruiting concept. “I have a hard time understanding how you’re going to convince student-athletes to commit to anything other than an athletic scholarship,” said Tanner Gardner, director of operations for athletics at Rice University.

Yet the Army already provides funding for athletes through scholarship programs at its service academies, where a variety of sports are played across all three NCAA divisions — and college athletes interested in the Army are still eligible to apply. join the Campus Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) programs at their respective schools. However, the grueling time commitments of ROTC and college athletics are often unmanageable for some students; according to Major General Johnny Davis of the Army Training and Doctrine Command, only 500–700 NCAA athletes comprise the Army’s 27,000 ROTC cadets on college campuses. “There’s nothing stopping an athlete from going to their nearest ROTC and saying, ‘I’m interested in serving in the military,'” Davis said. Sportico. “It’s a bold idea, but I think there are other ways from a recruiting perspective.”

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