Military academy athletes must serve before going pro

On Thursday, the first day of the 2017 NFL Draft, wide receiver Jalen Robinette received sudden bad news from the Air Force that he was ineligible for the draft.

Monday, the Pentagon announced that the policy was in effect across all military-service academies.

"The department has a long history of officer athletes who served their nation before going to the pros", White said in the statement, referencing Naval Academy graduates Roger Staubach and David Robinson, and Air Force Academy graduate Chad Hennings. "Graduates enjoy the extraordinary benefit of a military academy education at taxpayer expense. Therefore, upon graduation, officers will serve as military officers for their minimum commitment of two years", Pentagon chief spokesman Dana W. White said Monday in a statement. The latest rule change reinstates the requirement that AFA graduates with pro prospects must serve 24 months on active duty before completing their commissioned service obligation in the Ready Reserve.

An 11th-hour Air Force ruling may have an impact on how National Football League teams proceed with the university's prospects, namely wide receiver Jalen Robinette.

Top-tier athletes enrolled at US military service academies must, once again, serve out their mandatory two-year active duty stints upon graduation before they can pursue a career in professional sports.

"With the release of the new OSD policy which reverts back to all service academy graduates and ROTC members serving two years on active duty, all three service academies are under the same guidance moving forward".

Last year Navy's Keenan Reynolds was selected by the Baltimore Ravens in the draft.

According to Pro Football Talk, "Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the players had been led to believe throughout the pre-draft process that they could join the NFL". The 6-foot-3, 220-pounder averaged 22.5 yards per catch and scored 18 touchdowns as a four-year starter. The New Orleans Saints placed tight end Garrett Graham (Air Force) on its practice squad and the New York Jets signed fullback Chris Swain (Navy) to its active roster.

It's a principle two Air Force Academy football players were reminded of this weekend. That was under the Department of Defense's policy, which allowed athletes to apply to have their active duty deferred on a case-by-case basis.

  • Julie Sanders