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Air Force Academy Athletics Facing Investigation over Culture

Air Force Academy Superintendent Lt. General Michelle Johnson has called for an investigation of the athletic department by the Inspector General. The focus of the investigation will be the conduct of the cadets and the focus of the athletic department.

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Air Force Athletic Department is being investigated for serious problems associated with the misconduct of the cadets and the lack of institutional control by the leadership of the athletic department, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette. The investigation was spearheaded by Academy Superintendent Lt. General Michelle Johnson. The nature of the investigation includes:

Sexual misconduct, drug abuse and cheating by cadets

The focus of the athletic department being more concerned with winning Bowl Games and attracting money from alumni and private sources

Cadets conducting wild parties and engaging in other misconduct

According to the Gazette, the investigation began in 2010 with a group of football players that seemed to be involved in wild parties that included synthetic marijuana and charges of players using date rape drugs. There is also a report of two basketball players being allowed to take a special economics class built around the players practice and games. There are also charges of athletes cheating in classes.

Head coach Troy Calhoun has been the head coach of Air Force since 2007, so his job could be in jeopardy and especially since the team went 2-10 last year. The investigation centers on his athletes and there is a growing concern that the focus of building a competitive football program has led to these allegations. The fact that there have been well over a dozen football players suspended and discharged from the academy during the past three years puts a spotlight on Calhoun. The Gazette also reports that a faction of people within the academy are concerned that Calhoun's salary shifts the balance of power in favor of the football program. Calhoun signed a five-year contract extension in 2009 which was $4 million. His salary is almost four times larger than the Academy Superintendent.

The Gazette article also states that since Johnson has taken charge of the Academy, she has cracked down on recruiting cadets based solely on their athletic performance and overlooking academic problems that had to be bypassed to admit the athlete into the Academy. Some blame Air Force's 2-10 record last season and their apparent downward spiral as a direct result of Lt. General Johnson's focus on recruiting reform.

Once the investigation is completed, there stands a real chance for massive changes within the athletic program. Recruiting will be scrutinized like never before and a zero tolerance policy should be expected to be forced upon the athletic department. Calhoun, a former cadet himself, could see his job status in serious jeopardy as an attempt for the Academy Supervisors to clean the slate and show that a new culture is being built in the athletic department.

All information on the scandal has been released by the Air Force under the Freedom of Information Act.