President Trump says he’s in favor of athletes at service academies postponing active-duty service for pro sports
President Donald Trump said Monday that he is in favor of implementing a waiver system that would allow athletes at service academies to postpone their active-duty service requirements in order to pursue a career in professional sports.
During a ceremony at the White House to honor the Army football team, which won last year's Commander-in-Chief's Trophy, Trump said his administration is "going to look at" re-implementing the policy, describing it as "a great idea" and "really fair."
"Can you imagine, this incredible coach with that little asset?" Trump said, gesturing to Army coach Jeff Monken. "Because I would imagine that would make recruiting a little bit easier."
President Donald Trump speaks during the ceremony to present the Commander in Chief’s Trophy during a White House event with the Army Black Knights in the Rose Garden. (Photo: Scott Taetsch, USA TODAY Sports)
The Department of Defense previously allowed athletes to defer their active-duty service requirement in order to pursue pro sports, a policy that was implemented under President Barack Obama in 2016. But it was rescinded the following year by then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis — just four months into Trump's presidency.
"Our military academies exist to develop future officers who enhance the readiness and the lethality of our military services," Pentagon spokesperson Dana White said in a written statement at the time. "Graduates enjoy the extraordinary benefit of a military academy education at taxpayer expense."
In the two years since, graduates of military acadamies have been required to serve a minimum commitment of two years before seeking opportunities in pro sports. The abrupt change left NFL hopefuls like Air Force wide receiver Jalen Robinette and Air Force linebacker Ryan Watson in a lurch; Robinette was expected to be selected in the NFL draft that spring, and Watson said he had a signed contract with the Arizona Cardinals when he received final word on the policy change.
Now, Trump is indicating he wants to revert back to the 2016 policy — and clear the way for athletes at military academies to continue their sports careers.
"They'll serve their time after," Trump said. "I think it sounds good, right? I think it sounds good."
Contributing: Tom Vanden Brook
Contact Tom Schad at [email protected] or on Twitter @Tom_Schad.
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