New DOD Policy Impacts AF Academy Athletes

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis recently released a memo reversing a 2016 Department of Defense policy allowing military service academy athletes to go pro without fulfilling their service commitment. The memo states that academy graduates have “received the extraordinary benefits” of a “military academy education at taxpayer expense,” and that “during the first two years following graduation, officers will serve as full-fledged military officers.” The decision immediately impacted Air Force Academy stars Jalen Robinette (football) and Jax Griffin (baseball), the Colorado Springs Gazette reported. On the eve of the NFL draft, Robinette—a wide receiver who was likely to be selected as early as the second round—was notified by the Academy that he could not play in the NFL. Griffin, a right-handed pitcher, had already been drafted and signed a $645,000 contract to play with the Minnesota Twins at the time of the memo’s release. “Both of these cadets remain in excellent standing at the academy and should have an opportunity to pursue their professional athletic goals after serving two years as officers in the Air Force should they choose,” said a statement released by the academy, according to the Gazette.