AD: Mids Traveling Policy "Back on Track"

Last season, only 77 Mids traveled to Philadelphia to see the Temple game. Navy fans and alumni, as well as Temple officials had expected most of the brigade of 4,000 to make the trip. However, USNA Superintendent, Vice Adm. Jeffrey Fowler, instituted new polices that left a lot of Mids at home for the game. Last Friday, 500 Mids attended the Ball State game. Navy fans want to know: What changed?

Last year, Navy fans were up in arms when first-year superintendent, Vice Adm. Jeffrey Fowler decided to institute several new policies including one that limited the amount of midshipmen who were allowed to travel to away football games.  In an interview with last September, USNA officials explained the change by saying:


"The decision to limit away football game travel by midshipmen was not driven by budgetary issues, but rather its intent to ensure midshipmen remain focused on moral, mental, and physical development.  All other activity is secondary, optional, and conditional.  To this end the superintendent intends to remove distractions and guide development."


Furthermore, Fowler and former Commandant of Midshipmen, Margaret Klein were widely quoted as saying that since the United States was a "nation was at war" that midshipmen "needed to be ready to lead Sailors and Marines the day they graduated," and that the policies reflected a "new sense of urgency" by the administration.


For the second game of the season, a nationally televised Friday night game at Rutgers, less than 100 midshipmen were able to make the trip, and those that did were only allowed to do so after classes were completed earlier in the day.  As a result of their late departure, most of the Mids missed the beginning of the contest.  And in a game marred by verbally abusive Rutgers fans, it seemed as another opportunity was lost for midshipmen to support their team en masse.


After the next three games, all at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium, the administration faced another decision.  How many midshipmen would be allowed to travel to the Pitt game?  It was another nationally-televised event, but since it was on a Wednesday night, there were still concerns about midshipmen missing class.  In an exclusive interview with Klein, found out that for the Pitt game, 200 Mids were going to be allowed to travel if they met certain performance requirements; and furthermore, every member of the Brigade left behind in Annapolis would be viewing the game in Alumni Hall. 


It was a noticeable shift in policy, or as Klein called it, both sides – the midshipmen and the administration were "evolving."  Regardless of what it was referred to as, the change was welcomed by Naval Academy Athletic Director Chet Gladchuk, who on Monday confirmed things got better as the year progressed.


"We started out where the superintendent wanted to keep [midshipmen] focused on their studies, and kind of bring things back a little bit.  But as the season went along last year, I think we saw a number of Mids traveling [to] games and I think we had about 1,000 at Notre Dame," said Gladchuk.


"When the admiral felt that the academic priorities were squared away on the yard and the study hall habits were more under control, he became much more receptive to considering letting the Mids travel to the away games."


In no game, perhaps in the history of the Naval Academy football program did the Brigade's presence mean more to the football team than in last season's victory over Notre Dame.


"It was an incredible show of strength.  Those 1,000 Mids were louder than 75,000 [Notre Dame] fans during the overtime.  It was just a great exchange between our fans and our midshipmen and the players on the field.  There was an appreciation that we were in it together," said Gladchuk.


Navy went on to win their next three games and finished the year with an impressive 4-1 record on the road.


Fortunately for Navy fans, the football team and all midshipmen who love to support their team, it seems as though the momentum from last year has continued under the leadership of Fowler and the new Commandant of Midshipmen, Navy Capt. Matthew L. Klunder.


"This year the new commandant has been very supportive and the superintendent has been supporting the commandant…we are just fortunate that there is a game plan this year that covers all of the away games with some number of midshipmen attending," said Gladchuk.


According to USNA spokesman Cmdr. Joe Carpenter, the Academy "anticipates that about 400 midshipmen will be able to travel to the games at Duke, Wake Forest and NIU [on a movement order]…and approximately 750 Mids will be able to travel to the Air Force game.


These movement orders come on the heels of 500 midshipmen being able to make the trip to Muncie, Indiana for the Ball State game which was a welcome sight for Gladchuk.


"They were a wonderful, powerful factor in the [Ball State] game on Friday night.  You could see it on national television what a tremendous influence they are on the spirit of the [team].  We are on track and getting great support from our supe and commandant.  It's very much appreciated from the fans, and the players, and all of us."


One of the major factors in allowing more midshipmen to travel to away games this season was a significant decrease in the amount of classes that were missed by the Brigade during the previous academic year. 


"We looked at their schedules closely last year and have improved the balance between academic and military responsibilities and free time," said Carpenter.  "Fortunately, we were able to reduce their amount of missed classes by about 20% - and as a result - have afforded more opportunities for midshipmen to travel to away football games and support our team."


That support, and moreover the relationship between the brigade and the football team is something Gladchuk says has always been a priority for him.


"You know we've worked on that for years and years.  We had to recalibrate a little bit last year with the academics but we are back on track and I feel good about it."


"[The administration] realizes that football drives a tremendous amount of enthusiasm and spirit on the Yard.  It's really important that the program succeeds.  A football team can't do it all by themselves.  They look to the Brigade and the fans for the emotional support that is sometimes necessary to get them up over the tough times," continued Gladchuk.  "The more that we can keep that glued together, both at home and on the road, the better we are going to be in terms of winning as an institution at large."


Navy's athletic director also believes that Vice Adm. Fowler is committed to supporting all Navy sports programs – not just the football team. 


"The superintendent has made it perfectly clear that he wants the varsity programs to succeed and that he is committed to providing the resources necessary to help us get there.  He is very visibly involved in terms of everything he can possibly do to engage the Brigade.  Right now we are on a roll again and things are pretty close to being back on track," said Gladchuk.




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