The Naval Academy, which provides, by all accounts, an outstanding education and in return asks for a commitment of five years of active duty from its graduates, is so embarrassed by the poor performance of its football team that it is considering recruiting football players with the offer of only two years of active duty if they qualify, by their talent, for the NFL [Sports, Oct. 18].

When did the purpose of the Naval Academy change from providing naval officers to providing draft choices for the NFL? All the service academies, not just Annapolis, were established to train leaders to serve their country, in the best of all worlds as career officers, but at least for five years. I assume the five years, in theory, recoups the cost of that expensive education. Now the Naval Academy administration is considering putting that policy aside in the name of a winning football team.

If the commandant of the Naval Academy is embarrassed by his school's poor football record, either he can drop down to Division I-AA, II or III football, where his team might be more competitive, or give up football entirely. But don't shortchange American taxpayers in the name of Saturday afternoon glory.

DAVID KUCKENBECKER

Fairfax