Air Force Academy athletes, including football players, participated in wild off-campus parties featuring booze, marijuana, and date-rape drugs, according to an investigative report.
The report by the Colorado Springs Gazette, based in part on Freedom of Information Act documents, stated that "cadet athletes flouted the sacred honor code by committing sexual assaults, taking drugs, cheating and engaging in other misconduct at wild parties while the service academy focused on winning bowl games and attracting money from alumni and private sources in recent years."
The parties dating back to 2010 included "a core group of top football players" who allegedly smoked synthetic marijuana, drank heavily and used date-rape drugs to incapacitate women who were then sexually abused, the Gazette report said.
The behavior at the parties was so out of control that the Academy canceled a planned sting operation in 2012 because of concerns that undercover agents would not be able to protect the women in attendance, the Gazette said.
The report also said that athletes cheated on tests and were given special treatment by the faculty. In one instance, an economics professor set up a special course for two basketball players that accommodated their game and practice schedules, the Gazette said.
Academy investigations eventually implicated 32 cadets, including 16 football players and several other athletes.
According to the Academy, three of the 32 cadets were court-martialed and expelled -- wo football players and one woman basketball player. Two other football players and three basketball players received administrative punishment that resulted in their dismissal from the Academy. Six other cadets resigned from the Academy.
The Academy's Superintendent, Lt. Gen. Michelle D. Johnson, did not dispute the findings of the Gazette report.
Instead, Johnson said in a statement that the scandal "has caused us to refocus on our culture and climate. Since my arrival a year ago, we've taken a number of actions across the campus with the objective to even more deeply engrain a culture consistent with our core values."
AFA Football Coach Troy Calhoun has also pledged to take a closer look at the "moral character" of cadets entering the football program, the Gazette reported.
Johnson said she had asked the Academy's Inspector General to review the Athletic Department's oversight of the football program and all other sports activities.
Johnson said the Athletic Department has already "implemented several programs to ensure all cadet-athletes are living up to the Air Force's core values. They established the Respect and Character Enrichment committee that meets weekly to ensure teams and athletes are living up to our expectations," Johnson said.
Johnson noted a recent video produced by an AFA group called Cadet Athletes against Sexual Violence showing "our athletes making a pledge that they'll take action to stop sexual violence."
However, "Despite all of our efforts, I expect we'll still have issues with a few young people who will make poor choices," Johnson said.
The report on the Air Force Academy came as the Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md., was emerging from its own scandal involving football players, off-campus parties and allegations of sex and alcohol abuse.
In 2013, three Naval Academy football players were charged by a female classmate with sexual assault at an off-campus party location known as the "football house." Charges were later dropped against two of the accused the third was acquitted at a court martial.
In January, the Defense Department released a report stating that more than two-thirds of the sexual assaults reported at the military academies in academic year 2012-13 occurred at the Air Force Academy.
The annual report on Sexual Harassment and Violence at the Service Academies showed that the total number of sexual assaults reported was 70 at the Air Force Academy, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., and the Naval Academy in academic year 2012-13. That was a decrease from 80 reported at the academies in the previous year.
The Air Force Academy had 45 reports, the Naval Academy had 15, and West Point had 10 reports of sexual assault.
-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@monster.com.