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AFA gymnastics team punished for underage drinking; basketball staffer under investigation

September 5, 2014 Updated: September 5, 2014 at 5:22 am
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The Air Force Academy is disciplining some members of its men's gymnastics team after an inquiry uncovered underage drinking, and it also is investigating allegations of misconduct by a men's basketball staff member.

The announcement Thursday comes a month after academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson ordered a review of conduct within the school's athletic department in response to a Gazette investigation. The academy refused to release details of the disciplinary measures, citing the federal Privacy Act.

"Incidents over the past year have revealed a pattern of unprofessional behavior and underage drinking by the Men's Gymnastics team," the academy said in a news release. "The incidents did not 
involve sexual assaults or illicit drug use; however, they are not in line with the Academy's institutional values."

An academy source who asked not to be named said a "handful" of the team's 24 members were disciplined. None are facing court-martial, the source said, which means they were punished under the academy's broad disciplinary powers, including such things as a reprimand, extra duty and expulsion.

The academy gave little information on the alleged misconduct by an unidentified member of the basketball staff.

"The Academy will conduct an investigation and release information, as appropriate," the academy said.

In August, the Gazette reported a pattern of misconduct among athletes at the academy dating to 2010. Athletes were involved in sexual assault, drug use, cheating on tests, binge drinking and other forbidden behavior, the investigation found.

After academy investigators were told that athletes at a 2011 party in Manitou Springs may have used date-rape drugs to incapacitate girls before sexual assault, the academy launched a sweeping investigation dubbed "Operation Gridiron." That investigation targeted 32 cadets, including 16 football players. It led to three courts-martial and the dismissal of 17 cadets.

Johnson reacted to The Gazette's story on the misconduct by calling for an Inspector General's review of the athletic department to determine if athlete and coach conduct is in line with the school's values.

When asked to provide more information on how many cadets were facing administrative punishment and what level of punishment, an academy spokesman said he didn't know.

"All I have is what you see in the press release," spokesman Meade Warthen said.

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Contact Tom Roeder: 6360240

Twitter: @xroederx

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