Major changes are under way at West Point, where the Army has rescinded a program that allowed cadets who were athletes to swap out military service for playing professional sports after graduation.
The option had been available since April 2005, as the Army reasoned that its former West Point cadets could generate positive media attentionâ€”and enhance recruitingâ€”by serving on athletic fields instead of battlefields.
The Pentagon, apparently pressured by athletes from the Naval and Air Force academies who did not have similar options available, reiterated that the Army fall back under the same rules, which require at least two years of active service after graduation.
That means the Black Knights of Army must pack up their bags at season’s end and return to West Point, where they could await possible orders that could ship them off to Iraq or Afghanistan after graduation.
Until the Pentagon reverses the policy, there is little that baseball teams can hope for in drafting a player from a military academy and then immediately seeing him in their organization. A possibilityâ€”though an unlikely escape hatch based on these players’ commitment to serviceâ€”would be for players not to return for their junior seasons. Once a student starts his junior year, he is obligated to graduate and then fulfill his active duty requirement.
It’s unfortunate from a baseball perspective because the Army and Navy baseball programs have improved significantly in recent years.
Scouts will continue to keep an eye on the talent at military academies, however.
Among Army’s most intriguing names is shortstop Clint Moore, who dominated the Patriot League this season as a freshman. A former standout at Grimsley High School in Greensboro, N.C., Moore led the league in nine offensive categories and became only the third freshman in West Point history to earn first-team all-conference honors. He batted .350 with six home runs, 14 doubles and two triples, and he scored 46 runs and had 39 RBIs.
*****from Baseball America Magazine and check out more on Moore and other the young men from West Point at baseballamerica.com*****