BROCK: Policy gives Army edge over rivals

Army's Caleb Campbell was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the seventh round of the NFL draft on Sunday. Later that day, Army's Mike Viti signed a two-year contract to play for the Buffalo Bills. And while two cadets are headed to NFL camps, Navy and Air Force players, regardless of their talents, are not afforded the same opportunity. All three academies weighed in on the topic with

In an exclusive interview with, Army head coach Stan Brock agreed that the current Army policy that allows cadets to pursue a professional career immediately after graduation gives his staff a recruiting edge over Navy and Air Force.


Specifically, when asked if he felt the policy, from the recruiting aspect makes the playing field uneven amongst the three academies, Brock responded:


"I guess it would be.  I don't think about it that much, but it sounds like it would be."


First-year Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo agreed with Brock's assessment.


"It's a definite advantage [for Army].  Our hands are tied.  I really don't care one way or another what the policy is – I just want it to be the same."


Meanwhile, Air Force's associate athletic director for communications, Troy Garnhart outlined the Falcons' stance by saying, "We think all three academies should be the same."


What is clear is that neither the U.S. Naval Academy nor the U.S. Air Force Academy were very familiar with the specific Army memorandum that allowed their athletes to pursue an NFL career upon graduation.  Annapolis and Colorado Springs officials directed to the official Secretary of Defense policy that requires all service academy students to serve two-years of active duty.


That policy, which is dated August 24, 2007 and took effect on January 1, 2008 states that "officers may apply for excess leave, after serving a minimum of 24 months of the current obligated active duty period, for a period not to exceed one year, for the purpose of pursuing a professional sports activity with potential recruiting or public affairs benefits for the Department [of Defense]."


However, an Army memorandum dated April 2, 2005 allows West Point and ROTC "personnel who demonstrate a strong potential to participate in a professional activity [to] be assigned to the nearest U.S. Army recruiting unit in proximity to where the professional activity will be conducted for the two-year period of active duty."


The memorandum goes on to say that "individuals may participate in the professional activity during the two-year active duty period, as long as the professional activity does not interfere with the service member's military duties.


Lt. Col. Anne Edgecomb, a spokesperson for the U.S. Army said that this policy is not only for athletes.


"This policy applies to all professional activities and is not limited to professional sports.  All applicants will be given fair and equitable consideration for participation in this program."


As far as whether the Secretary of Defense policy supersedes the Army memorandum, Department of Defense spokesperson, Lt. Col. Jonathan Withington said in an email to that "it is up to the Army to interpret [the DoD] policy."


One thing is for sure, the Black Knights' head football coach likes the Army's interpretation.


"I think it is good to be able to keep your dreams alive.  We understand at West Point that west of the Mississippi…we are challenged a little bit in getting information out about [the academy] and all that it stands for.  And so to have the national exposure like we had in the last 24 hours with Caleb Campbell – a seventh round draft choice…is very, very positive for a lot of reasons," said Stan Brock.


"I'm very proud of [Campbell and Viti].  Owen Tolson has an opportunity as well and Jeremy Trimble may have an opportunity as well.  I'm happy for them.  I'm happy for West Point.  I think that Caleb represented West Point very well yesterday at the draft when they brought him up for the interview.  And I think that's one thing the academies can use.  It's good for all the academies quite honestly," continued Brock.


As for whether or not Brock thought that the policy could bring more scrutiny to West Point, the second-year coach was adamant that the benefits outweighed any potential negatives.


"I would challenge the people that are questioning it to understand how the whole thing is going to work and the numbers of people who will be able to take advantage of it and how small they are…I think [the benefits for the Army and the U.S. Military Academy] are very, very positive.  I would just challenge [critics] to study and understand the whole concept of it and how it will lay out and work."


And even though Brock acknowledged that Army's policy would give his team an advantage over his rivals, he said that it would not affect how he recruits.


"We're recruiting for West Point.  You have to be a special kid – you have to have something special about you to come to West Point.  It does not change our recruiting whatsoever.  We still have the academic and physical standards.  This will always be West Point."


Calls to U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force officials regarding whether or not their services have any plans to interpret the Secretary of Defense's policy in a similar fashion to their Army counterparts went unreturned as of 5:00 p.m. EST on Monday.


As far as where Caleb Campbell may be headed for duty, contacted the Great Lakes Recruiting Division in Lansing Michigan, which covers the Detroit area, to see if they were aware that the newly-drafted player may be headed out to help with its recruiting efforts.  It turns out we broke the news to a public affairs official with the unit who remarked when we made him aware of Campbell's possible assignment:


"Oh is that right?"


"As far as I know, we have two company commanders…but right now there is one officer spot in each company and they are [Army] captains.  So that means that they have been in for a number of years," the official continued.


"He probably wouldn't be assigned to us because there are no slots for second lieutenants in that area.  They may be doing something special for him."


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