The Pentagon has changed its policy on student athletes stating that it would no longer approve requests to waive active-duty military service commitments. It already affected the status of Air Force Academy wide receiver Jalen Robinette.
Robinette was considered a mid-round pick in last weekend’s NFL Draft in leading the country with a 24.7 yard per catch average for the Air Force in 2016. He believed that the Air Force would, like the services had done in the past, allow him to play pro football and place him in the reserves.
But the decision, announced on Thursday just hours prior to the draft has left Robinette undrafted. Now he’ll have to serve a minimum of two years on active duty before he can resume his pro football dreams.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the Pentagon said, “Our military academies exist to develop future officers who enhance the readiness and the lethality of our military services. Graduates enjoy the extraordinary benefit of a military academy education at taxpayer expense.
“Therefore, upon graduation, officers will serve as military officers for their minimum commitment of two years.”
After Navy standout quarterback Keenan Reynolds was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens last year, the defense department changed its policy for service-academy athletes who are offered the opportunity to play professionally, saying they could receive reserve appointments upon graduation and start their pro careers immediately rather than serving two years of active duty first.
The New England Patriots have a Navy Ensign, Joe Cardona who was assigned to the Naval Preparatory School in Connecticut which allows him to play for the Patriots while balancing his Navy commitments. He announced the Patriots 4th round selection while in uniform at his base on Saturday afternoon.
While we certainly can understand Robinette’s frustration at the last second change in policy, he did sign up for the military and received a first-class education. And his commitment will come first. It isn’t known if the change in policy will affect the other players such as Reynolds and Cardona in the future.
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