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President Trump signs memo allowing Service Academy athletes to turn pro

Service Academy athletes could soon have the best of both worlds.

NCAA Football: U.S. Military Academy-White House Visit Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

A new memo signed by President Trump will erase the gray area for Service Academy athletes by allowing them to play in professional sports leagues after graduating.

“Highly talented cadets and midshipmen who receive the extraordinary benefits of an education from an Academy or through a ROTC program at taxpayer expense should be able to both take advantage of the short window of time during which playing professional sports is realistically possible, while also honoring the commitment they have made to our Armed Forces and our country,” the President wrote in the memo.

The AAE team has talked at length about what going pro could mean for Service Academy athletes. And while there is much debate on which is a priority — sports or service — we pretty much agreed that at the very least, we wanted the Department of Defense to come up with a permanent policy that wouldn’t leave these talented student-athletes and soon-to-be lieutenants out to dry.

Well, it looks like this policy is coming on the horizon.

Trump touted this idea first back in May when Army football visited the White House and received the Commander-In-Chief’s trophy.

“We’re going to see if we can do it and they’ll serve their time after they’re finished with professional sports,” he said.

Service academy graduates have a five-year minimum service obligation and the 2017 policy allowed them to serve two years on active duty before being eligible to transition into the reserve status and go pro.

Graduates like Keenan Reynolds, former Navy quarterback was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in 2016. He was able to defer his active-duty service to play. Reynolds is currently in the reserves and is a wide receiver for the Seattle Seahawks.

Now, this policy change is a big deal for Air Force long snapper Austin Cutting who was the 250th pick in this year’s draft and picked up by the Minnesota Vikings. Many wondered if he was going to choose between serving first or playing in the NFL.

The president’s memo gives the Defense Department 120 days to create a policy that would allow athletes like Cutting to temporarily forgo their active-duty commitment to play professionally.