Naval Academy Athletic Director, J. O. (Bo) Coppedge, said today stories on the decline of the Army athletic program and alleged NCAA recruiting violations is an "injustice to Army and the other service academies.
"It's warmed-over hash. What is being exposed? All of these charges came up a year ago," said Coppedge. "Look at what we're talking about, it's like someone said in the story, the charges are like jaywalking.
"We're talking about putting too many athletes in prep schools, too many coaches on the road recruiting and too many visits by recruits to the Army camps, Coppedge said. "That's not very serious to begin with but then we're academy. If five kids here are caught smoking marijuana, it turns into a great big story. If five kids are caught at another school it's absolutely nothing."
"The academy has this image to uphold. People look up to us, expect more from our kids," he said. "And you know what people will think, if Army is doing something illegal, so is Air Force and Navy."
"If Army was 11-0, no one would mention a word about recruiting," said Navy defensive end Charlie Thornton. "Having a losing season doesn't help. Everybody's down on them right now. I don't think any academy deserves this kind of attention for those minor charges. I guess I feel a little sorry for them."
At Annapolis, football recruiting is watched carefully by Coppedge, Dave Smalley, the assistant athletic director and Coach George Welsh.
"We have many things going for us at Navy. Our administration has been better than each one before, We have George and our program is very attractive," said Coppedge. "We make sure everything is done the way it's supposed to be. If there's anybody in the country who should be worried about what Army is doing, it's me.
"If we lose 10-12 of our sports to Army for a few years in a row, I'll get fired," Coppedge said. "I'm not worried about what Army is doing. They will get their program back together. It takes hard work and that's the key to our success."
Navy (6-4) is a 17 1/2 point favorite over Army (2-7-1) for Saturday's game at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia.
Welsh's teams have beaten the Cadets five of his six years, including a 28-0 romp last year.
Whether the allegations against Army are proved or not, Navy officials believe the end results will harm all three academies' recruiting to some degree.
"It's tough getting players now. We're asking a lot of them to come to the academy in the beginning," said Coppedge. "We subject them to a dress code, regimentation and discipline. We teach them to be different.
"We're not trying to be the best team in the nation or in the top 10 every year. We're trying to build an esprit de corps. Athletics is very important to the service academies and some of this is bound to rub off on all of us."
"I may hate Army in terms of competition, but I don't think they deserve this kind of treatment," Thornton said.