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Service Academy athletes can officially go pro after graduation

Service academy athletes no longer have to sit in limbo anymore when they have opportunities to play their sport professionally.

NCAA Football: Military Bowl-Pittsburgh vs Navy Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been months in the process and now, it’s finally official, Service Academy athletes have an opportunity to defer their service and play sports professionally.

According to the Associated Press, Defense Secretary Mark Esper signed a memo solidifying the policy, but with some guidelines of course. Athletes must first receive approval from the secretary of defense. Individuals will later have to complete their military obligation or repay the cost of their Service Academy education.

You might remember, early this year in May, President Trump urged the Department of Defense to make this change, making the first announcement after Army was presented with the CiC trophy at the White House.

Following the president’s signature of a waiver, the department later deliberated on the exact guidelines for how to make this happen.

Thanks to the waiver, months later, in August, former Army OT Brett Toth signed with the Philadelphia Eagles.

After the conversation surrounding the waiver, some wondered what Defense Department would make of academy graduates deferring their service obligation. The AAE team even looked at some of the pros and cons of what it would mean and look like for some recent academy grads who received draft invitations.

Many of us came to the agreement that whatever the policy, one needed to be put in place so grads like Toth, Austin Cutting, and Noah Song wouldn’t have to sit in limbo.

Esper’s signage of the memo, which was obtained by the AP, reverses a 2018 policy that then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis argued, “academies exist to train officers.”

But for now, it looks like Service Academy graduates will be able to have the best of both worlds.