In response to the latest batch of schools in trouble with the NCAA, the Wall Street Journal decided to look at the schools who have never run afoul of the NCAA’s massive rulebook. The paper found that 17 schools with major athletic departments that compete in FBS football have never had a major violation in any sport since 1953. Air Force is on that list.
I assume the Falcons’ inclusion on that list doesn’t come as a major surprise to most folks. When the honor code states “We Will Not Lie, Steal Or Cheat, Nor Tolerate Among Us Anyone Who Does,” it’s not hard to believe that the athletic department has avoided the type of scandal that is keeping Ohio State and North Carolina in the news. There really doesn’t seem to be much reason for Air Force to skirt the NCAA rulebook, at least in recruiting.
Air Force already pays its players. The academy pays all cadets. Then again, $846 per month isn’t likely to deter anyone who would be interested in $100 handshakes, so that probably isn’t the main reason the Falcons should stay above the recruiting fray. If there was, for example, a freakishly athletic quarterback selling his services, even assuming that player was able to qualify for Air Force, does anyone think that player would enter into military service and significantly impact his NFL dreams (and pass up the elite conferences to play in the Mountain West) for whatever cash Air Force could offer? Highly unlikely. And while Air Force does occasionally dip into the A pool for recruits, usually it is not battling major SEC or Big 12 powers for players. There doesn’t seem to be much reason to offer Nissan 350Z’s to players to lure them away from directional FCS schools.
If Air Force was ever to get in trouble it would probably be something that involved athletes showing little concern for the NCAA’s rules, but that still would be a surprise given the type of kids that come to the academy.
Even though there are a lot of reasons Air Force wouldn’t get caught up in a major scandal, it is commendable that over a half century, with plenty of coaches and plenty of athletes having represented the academy, it has never given the NCAA a reason to slap it with a major violation. There’s a reason that list of schools isn’t very long.