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11 AFA cadets barred from swimming competitions while misconduct investigated

February 22, 2018 Updated: February 23, 2018 at 7:56 am
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Eleven members of the Air Force Academy swim team have been removed from a meet due to a misconduct investigation, the military school said in an email. (Photo by Jeff Kearney)

Eleven members of the Air Force Academy men's swim team are prohibited from taking part in competitions due to a misconduct investigation, the Colorado Springs military school said in an email.

Citing privacy act protections, the email said the academy is "unable to share details of the misconduct." Sources, though, said the suspensions were related to hazing on the team.

Cadets who are not in good standing "are barred from representing the Air Force Academy at external events," said Lt. Col. Allen Herritage, the academy spokesman.

Nine of the 11 cadets were at the Western Athletic Conference swimming and diving championship this week in Houston, where the Air Force was trying to win its third straight conference title, Herritage said.

Before the nine were barred from competing, Air Force was in second place behind Wyoming after the first day of the meet.

In October, the academy dealt similarly with several men's lacrosse coaches and players while claims of misconduct were investigated.

"Some members of the team and coaches have been put into an inactive status and will not participate in group lacrosse activities or intercollegiate competition, until further notice," said an academy statement at the time.

Then, too, the academy declined to disclose what the athletes were alleged to have done, but several sources said it also involved hazing.

The investigation into the team comes after academy leaders heaped praise on the school's athletic department for changing its ways after years of scandals involving athletes.

A 2014 Gazette investigation revealed misconduct by academy athletes, including drug use, binge drinking and sexual assault. The school launched an internal investigation and redoubled efforts to ensure it was recruiting players who would avoid trouble.

Last summer, then-Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson said the academy had put its athlete-conduct woes behind it. "Now they are our shining stars," she said in July.

In 2012, 27 cadets were injured in an unofficial hazing known as First Shirt/First Snow that devolved into a "brawl." Six were treated at local hospitals with concussions and broken bones. One cadet had been bitten on the arm.

The event, which is no longer allowed, had been held on the first snowfall each year. Freshman cadets tried to throw their stripped-down cadet first sergeant into the snow, while upperclassmen tried to defend the sergeant.

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