The U.S. Military Academy at West Point, facing the worst cheating scandal since 1976, has expelled at least eight cadets and is holding 51 back a year.

The Army’s military academy investigated 73 cadets who were suspected of cheating on a freshman calculus exam in May. The exam had been administered virtually because of the coronavirus. All but one of those involved were plebes (freshmen) and one was a sophomore. All of the students made the same mistake on the calculus exam.

Fifty-two of the cadets in the cheating scandal were athletes. Several of whom were on the football team that played in the Liberty Bowl, according to a West Point spokeswoman. However, West Point said none of the 52 are now representing the school on athletic teams because of this situation. 

A plebe or freshman is “welcomed” to West Point by an upperclassman on Day 1 of his time at the academy. (DVIDs)

Of the 73 cadets investigated by the cadet honor committee, six resigned during the investigation and four were acquitted by a board of their peers. Two cases were dropped due to insufficient evidence. The 51 cadets were “turned back” one full year after admitting to cheating; two were turned back six months. Those cadets will be under probation until graduation. Of the eight cadets removed from the academy, three of them agreed to accept the chance to take part in an “academy mentorship program” that allows them to reapply to West Point after serving for up to a year as an enlisted soldier.

Cadets at the U.S. Military Academy are bound by the honor code that states that a cadet “will not lie, cheat, or steal, nor tolerate those that do.” 

Superintendent Lt. Gen. Darryl A. Williams said in a released statement that,

“The tenets of honorable living remain immutable, and the outcomes of our leader development system remain the same, to graduate Army officers that live honorably, lead honorably, and demonstrate excellence.”

“West Point must be the gold standard for developing Army officers. We demand nothing less than impeccable character from our graduates,” he added. 

West Point Halts Willful Admission

West Point 2015
West Point graduation day of cadets who will be entering the Army as 2LTs. (DOD photo)

West Point will also halt its six-year-old “willful admission process,” the academy announced. The process had allowed students violating the school’s honor code to stay at West Point by admitting fault and accepting punishment. Fifty-five of the cadets caught cheating in May had enrolled in the process. 

West Point reviewed the program and found that it failed to meet its goal of increasing self-reporting and decreasing toleration. Its end means that expulsion will be a potential punishment for an honor violation.

This is the worst cheating scandal at West Point since 1976 when 153 upperclassmen were expelled or resigned for cheating on an electrical engineering exam. At that time, the secretary of the Army appointed a special commission, headed by former astronaut Frank Borman, to review the case. It resulted in more than 90 of those caught cheating being reinstated and allowed to graduate.