The Naval Academy just had three football players charged after sexually assaulting a female midshipman over a year ago. Rape and sexual assault are involved in the case, which dates back to spring of 2012 (source: AP).
How this will affect head coach Ken Niumatalolo and his team from Annapolis is obviously not known at this time but there are many questions revolving around the circumstances. The details are disturbing for many reasons, not the least of which is the length of time it has taken the Navy to announce the charges when NCIS reportedly had finished their investigation last year.
Not the first time
This is not the first time that allegations such as sexual assault have been an issue with the Naval Academy. The Midshipmen’s starting quarterback, Lamar Owens Jr., was found guilty of charges after being acquitted of rape and subsequently kicked out of school in 2006. A year later, another player, Kenny Ray Morrison, was found guilty of sexually assaulting a female classmate and consequently thrown into the brig for two years with that conviction.
The problem of sexual assaults in the military could becoming endemic – 26,000 sexual assaults happened in the military in 2012 — and these incidents are reprehensible at any level (source: Atlantic Wire). However, when considering the close quarters that male and female student midshipmen have to adjust to, unfortunately there may be a larger problem brewing at the academies.
Still, the affect that these events have on the team could influence their season. The team returns what most would consider a bright star in sophomore quarterback Keenan Reynolds. As typically academy teams do, they seem to be able to reload every year; but defense, which wasn’t all that great last year at Navy, doesn’t appear any better in 2013. The flexbone offense will be effective as usual and the Middies shouldn’t have a problem scoring but if their defense doesn’t improve, high-scoring blowout losses like the 2012 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl – that saw Arizona State absolutely level the Navy 62-28 – could be common this year.
As a fan of the Academies and especially the Midshipmen – my father was in the Navy – and also being a huge fan of Hawaii, I see their November 9th contest at the Naval Academy as a big game. From my perspective, the ninth game of the year will likely be a make-or-break gridiron battle that could decide whether either team is bowl eligible at season end.
As with all academies, the NAVY is a special place and vast a majority of the football players that go to Navy are performing for a higher good than most – check out this video if you don’t think so.
If the dilemma created by these terrible accusations does indeed affect the football squad, Navy might find itself sitting home for the bowl season. How these young men react will say a lot about the current Midshipmen and future officers of the U.S. Navy.
Additional source: Naval Academy
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