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Volume 26 No. 231
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Military Academy Athletes Will Be Able To Turn Pro After Graduation

The door has been opened for athletes at the nation's military academies to "delay their active-duty service to play professional sports after they graduate," according to Lolita Baldor of the AP. Scretary of Defense Mark Esper "signed a memo last Friday laying out the new guidelines, which say the athletes must get approval from the defense secretary and require them to eventually fulfill their military obligation or repay the costs of their education." The memo "came at the insistence" of President Trump, who "directed the Pentagon in June to come up with a way to allow athletes to play professional sports immediately upon graduation." Trump earlier this year said that he was "considering allowing athletes to get a waiver so they could play pro sports." In the new memo, Esper said that military service secretaries can nominate an athlete for a waiver after determining there "is a strong expectation that a Military Service Academy cadet or midshipman's future professional sports employment will provide the DoD with significant favorable media exposure likely to enhance national level recruiting or public affairs missions" (AP, 11/14). In Colorado Springs, Brent Briggeman notes the new policy "provides clarity to a controversial issue that has seen changes in recent years at inopportune times" for military academy athletes. For decades, athletes were "required to serve two years on active duty after graduation before applying to serve out that obligation on Reserve status" (Colorado Springs GAZETTE, 11/15).