Athletics are 'effective' at Air Force Academy, Inspector General says


  • Courtesy Air Force Academy
In a news release just out, the Air Force Academy announces that an Inspector General's examination of the Athletic Department found it was "effective" in managing resources, leading people, improving the unit and executing the mission.

That falls in the middle of possible ratings, with "outstanding" being the highest rating and "ineffective" being the lowest.

The review, ordered in August, was not sought in response to recent Gazette reports of allegations of sexual assault against athletes and honor code violations, academy officials say.

Rather, it's the first of five mission elements that will under go review under a newly adopted inspection system introduced last year throughout the Air Force. (The Independent reported about the academy's character issues in "Cracks in the Code," April 11, 2012.)

The next academy element to submit to an IG review will be the preparatory school, about which the Independent reported a year ago ("A prep to protect," Nov. 13, 2013). In that report, we cited numerous studies that pointed out weaknesses in the prep school, and noted the graduation rate for preppies is lower than those admitted directly to the academy, based on data obtained through the Freedom of Information Act over a span of 18 months

The Indy story also noted that the academy fields competitors in 26 NCAA Division 1 sports with a student body of only 4,000, compared to 16 NCAA Division 1 sports at the University of Colorado at Boulder, which has a student population of about 26,000 — which suggests the academy's emphasis on sports and athletes might give rise to relaxing standards in order to admit star athletes who otherwise wouldn't be there and/or toleration of their bad behavior. The academy vigorously denies that, saying the purpose of athletics is to build leadership and character.

Here's the release: 
The Air Force Academy Inspector General office completed its inspection of the Academy Athletic Department and the overall grade was “effective,” which indicates the unit performs its mission. The inspection team highlighted both unit strengths as well as areas for improvement.
“This inspection validates some of the areas where we know we can improve,” said Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle D. Johnson. “However, it also highlights there have been significant gains over the past year and that there are program strengths and a number of areas in the department that are effectively meeting their mission.”
Nothing rose to the threshold that would require a follow-on legal investigation.
“The purpose of an inspection is to give leaders an independent assessment of the overall effectiveness, readiness, discipline and resources of a unit so that leaders can take those results and make improvements,” said Academy Inspector General, Col. David Kuenzli.
According to General Johnson, this inspection report will allow the Academy to do just that.
Using a unit inspection process established Air Force-wide over the past year, the IG inspected portions of the Athletic Department against four major graded areas: Managing Resources, Leading People, Improving the Unit and Executing the Mission. Those major graded areas align with the expectations for all Air Force unit leaders as directed by Air Force Instruction 1-2, Commander's Responsibilities.
Ratings can range from outstanding, highly effective, effective, marginally effective, or ineffective.
Colonel Kuenzli also said it’s important to differentiate between an inspection and an investigation.
“We (the Academy IG) conduct inspections as well as investigations. As explained previously, this was a standard unit inspection using a methodology established by the Air Force inspection process,” said Kuenzli. “This was not an investigation. Investigations are based on specific allegations that an agency violated a DOD or Air Force regulation, or any laws that govern the DOD.” However, he also added that “It’s important to note that while this was an inspection, it did not uncover any allegations that would initiate an investigation.”
In addition to the core IG team, the IG recruited, trained and certified inspectors as subject matter experts from areas like finance, contracting and manpower. The inspection team also employed resident expertise from the aculty to assess the Athletic Department’s strategic alignment and organizational practices.
Some of the department’s strengths and best practices included the fact that the department excels in executing its mission. The inspection highlighted that all cadets are afforded a competitive experience in a physically demanding environment and department employees exceptionally plan, orchestrate and successfully execute hundreds of events annually. In addition, intercollegiate coaches are continuously considering cadets’ time, especially when balancing the desire to train for competitions with the rigorous demands of the Academy, to include academics, military and leadership training.
The NCAA compliance section was a notable strength because NCAA standards are communicated and understood, consistently applied and non-selectively enforced.
Regarding areas for improvement, the IG report noted that department pride in its mission remains high, but morale has suffered from various external and internal factors such as sequestration and budget constraints. The inspection identified a culture in which members had lost a sense of common belonging and recommended several methods to compliment the on-going improvement efforts. It also recommended improvements to the management of administrative and personnel actions.
“I want to thank the IG members for their professional and thorough inspection that will only better this institution as we continue to spread the mindset of a Culture of Commitment and Climate of Respect,” said General Johnson. “This offers yet another opportunity for us to continue to improve and grow.”

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