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ABC's 'Nightline' to air report on Air Force Academy misconduct

October 29, 2014 Updated: October 29, 2014 at 6:55 am
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photo - Air Force Academy football players walk into their practice facility Thursday, July 31, 2014 for the first day of football practice for the 2014 season. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette
Air Force Academy football players walk into their practice facility Thursday, July 31, 2014 for the first day of football practice for the 2014 season. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette 

ABC News announced Tuesday that it will air an investigation into the misconduct of Air Force Academy football players and the school's 2013 informant scandal - stories that first appeared in The Gazette.

The network's full report airs Wednesday on "Nightline" and follows Gazette investigations in 2013, August and September that examined the school's undercover cadet informant program, misconduct by athletes including sexual assault and how the Air Force Academy Preparatory School and similar schools at Navy and Army have been transformed into a pipeline for athletes with few admissions rules.

ABC described its work in an email to The Gazette.

"It's called "Code of Silence" - an ABC News investigation into allegations of sexual violence involving members of the Air Force Academy football team, and what happened to the undercover cadet and Air Force special investigations agent who tried to blow the whistle," the network's Van Scott Jr. wrote. "It's a big deal, especially because the big Air Force/Army football game is this weekend."

Amid the Gazette investigations, the academy ordered a review of its athletic department and the informant program. Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson said she would personally oversee all use of cadet informants. This month, Johnson was given a report that identified shortcomings in athletics, including issues with discipline and morale.

Questions about conduct in the athletic department stem, in part, from allegations that surfaced after a Dec. 2, 2011, party in Manitou Springs. A cadet confidential informant told agents of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations that cadets, including a core group of football players used drugged rum to incapacitate women for sex.

"We remain focused on a future that reinforces a climate of respect and a culture of commitment to our Air Force core values and the nation," academy spokesman Lt. Col. Brus Vidal said in a statement. "We continually strive for improvement."

Those claims led to a wide-ranging probe of athlete conduct called "Operation Gridiron," which led to the court-martial convictions of three athletes. Five more cadets received administrative punishment that resulted in their dismissal, another half-dozen cadets resigned and three were kicked out for unrelated misconduct.

ABC's on Tuesday released a story focusing on one of the court-martialed cadets, former academy linebacker Jamil Cooks, who is now at Alcorn State in Mississippi. Cooks was found guilty of abusive sexual contact in an April 2013 court martial proceeding at the Air Force Academy. Cooks has appealed his conviction.

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Contact Tom Roeder: 636-0240

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MORE COVERAGE

- Former Air Force academy player, now a registered sex offender, starring at new school

- Army football coach takes blame for violations

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