The Wall Street Journal’s story on the 17 major athletic programs that field a FBS team that have escaped a NCAA major violation had an interesting twist for Air Force fans: The Falcons were on the list of 17, but Army and Navy were not. A blog commenter asked me about it, and a few others I talked to wondered the same thing – what did the other military academies do to get a major violation?
The NCAA has a database for major violations, so here is the answer. For Army, the major violation was handed down in 1980. The athletic program was found to have been guilty of: “Improper recruiting contacts, entertainment, inducements, lodging and transportation; excessive number of official visits; tryouts; coaching staff limitations,” according to the NCAA’s report. The violations happened during the 1976-77 school year, mostly by the football program, but the golf team was involved too. Army was publicly reprimanded but its eligibility for postseason play and television appearances were not affected. In the NCAA’s report, it states there was no effort to circumvent NCAA rules, but the transgressions were a result of an inadequate review of athletic department policies. Here is the report.
Navy also had one major violation, handed down in 1964 for “Improper recruiting entertainment and transportation.” Navy got a year probation, in addition to a public reprimand. In that instance, a “representative of the Academy’s athletic interests” worked with an assistant football coach and “arranged for and provided an expense-paid trip to four prospective student-athletes from their home environment to Dallas, Texas, and return, in order that these young men could attend the 1964 Cotton Bowl football game in which the Academy’s team participated,” according to the report. The NCAA said there was no attempt to break the rules, but the violation was brought on by a lack of communication within Navy’s organization. The NCAA also noted that Navy reported itself to the NCAA and conducted a thorough investigation. The report is here.
The violations at the other service academies should show how fortunate Air Force has been to avoid any major violations. Army and Navy have the same standards, but over the last 58 years since the NCAA has been tracking violations, all it would have taken was one coach trying to cut corners or an unknowing mistake that led to a major violation to take Air Force off that list of 17.