Army Supe Refuses to Talk about Panel

If you are a member of the media and are looking to talk to Lt. Gen. Franklin L. Hagenbeck about his study group that he formed in order to conduct a comprehensive review of his struggling Army football team, I have some bad news for you – neither he nor his public affairs staff are talking about it.

When I called Hagenbeck's office looking to speak to either the Superintendent or a designated official about the panel he formed, I was told by Mr. Frank Demaro, a spokesman for the Academy that I would "have to go through the sports information department."  But since the athletic department won't talk to about this or any subject (which Demaro confirmed), West Point has lost a golden opportunity to explain this study group further to their alumni and fans.   At first I thought the Superintendent's office was giving me the "you are not an accredited member of the media" treatment, but Demaro assured me that if I was Anderson Cooper calling from CNN that he too would have to go through the athletic department.  This is like calling the White House Press Office and asking for a comment about the Iraq Study Group that the President formed and the Press Office referring you to the Pentagon. 

A follow-up phone call to the Superintendent's office to confirm their stance on not commenting on the panel was not returned for several days prior to this story appearing on
Could West Point be handling this story any worse?  The ironic part of their inability to get ahead of this story or to even deal with me in a more professional manner is that I'm not out to make them look bad.  I'm not out for a "gotcha" story.  I thought it was a responsible journalistic question to ask the Superintendent what role his athletic department was playing in his study group.  How difficult would it have been for their office to say that the Superintendent will be working hand-in-hand with the athletic director throughout the process?  For whatever reason, they won't.  So now we are all left to speculate why not.  Why is West Point not talking?  Why are they not talking about the roles AD Kevin Anderson and head football coach Stan Brock are playing in this study group? 

Remember, the Superintendent's office said that they weren't treating me any differently than CNN.  So this isn't a "you're just" thing.  When it comes to the Superintendent's study group, if your media affiliation isn't the Pointer View, the Superintendent has nothing to say on the subject.  At some point these questions will be answered, just like the last question I asked of West Point which was, "Can you confirm that Kevin Ross has been fired?"  If the West Point brass is happy with how they handled that situation than perhaps they will see nothing wrong with their communications strategy with the study group.  I respectfully beg to differ. 

I am hopeful that some official up at West Point reads this column and realizes that the less they talk, the more it appears as they are hiding something.  Sure, the athletic department can continue to believe it is the 1980s and there is no such thing as the internet or responsible internet reporters.  They can continue to ignore me and hope that I will stop asking questions, but I don't think that is going to happen anytime soon.  And what is the Superintendent's office's excuse for not commenting?  If they think this study group is a good idea, and CNN or wants to give their good idea some free ink then why not offer up a few sound bytes or quotes?

At a time when Army can't buy positive media exposure for their football program on the field, they are doing a great job of encouraging negative press away from the field.  Don't their players, alumni and fans deserve better?

If you care to comment on this column, please an email to Top Stories