A new policy change made by the Department of Defense will make the path military academy students take to get into professional sports easier than ever before.
The DoD Pro Sports Policy, which was changed in May 2016, now states that athletes from service academies no longer have to serve two years of active duty to fulfill their required service time. Those athletes are instead able to serve their time in the ready reserve for their respective branch of the armed forces.
According to the Colorado Springs Gazette's Brent Briggeman, the success of former Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds last season helped bring about the change.
After being drafted in the sixth round of the NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens, the Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus and Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter talked about the possibility of an exemption for the record-setting quarterback, which made the rewriting of the rule possible.
Looking at one of the biggest ramifications of the change, this will be a huge boost to the recruiting side of those programs. Student-athletes who want a chance at the pros now don't have the hurdle of active service that stifled the chances of many promising athletes, negating that particular negative of playing for an academy.
The policy will undoubtedly also raise questions of whether or not these student athletes are the same as their non-varsity sports counterparts, creating a potential divide on what the new image of service academy athletics will be.
According to the Washington Post, 79 athletes from service academies have played in the NFL at some point in the league’s history. With the change, that number should expand in the next few years in leaps and bounds.