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Alumni and Friends of VMI:

Football Info: This past week I received a copy of the minutes from the Keydet Football Conference held 16 - 18 January in Williamsburg, VA. These minutes contained a recap of the 17 (not 20 as I had initially thought) recommendations offered by the consultants retained by VMI. The following represents the 17 recommendations as offered by the consultants. In some instances recommendations are followed by clarifying comments as they appear in the minutes. In reviewing the following, please be advised that the term "He" is referring to one of the consultants offering the recommendations:

1. Adjust regimen to retain athletes. VMI's living facilities are a disadvantage to successful recruitment and retention and need to be improved.

2. Return to cafeteria style dining. VMI current family-style dining is a disadvantage and should be reviewed. For example, first year athletes are actually losing weight and strength because of family-style dining. He emphasized that the Rat Line must end at the dining room door.

3. Employ a strength coach for football. He said that football is a "power sport" and depends on weight gain and strength. Cadets must have access to the weight room and adequate time to lift weights. He emphasized that building strength consumes much time.

4. Improve academic support services. VMI needs to augment the services of Col. Don Jamison, athletic counselor to the athletic teams.

5. Award maximum grants for football. He pointed that 63 grants-in-aid are permissible, and that VMI needs to award the maximum number. In connection with this, he said that more out-of-state scholarship athletes must be recruited in order to expand the pool of potential players for VMI.

6. Increase recruiting budget for football. He pointed out that VMI's recruiting budget is approximately 50% of The Citadel's budget. An increased recruiting budget will permit VMI to expand its current recruiting area to cover more states.

7. Address animosity between athletes and non-athletes. VMI needs to bridge the gap between athletes and non-athletes. To do this, for example, players must sell other cadets on their commitments to their teams and to the Institute, and they need to inform the Corps of time and effort involved in playing intercollegiate sports.

8. Consider reduction in sports sponsored by VMI. The Institute may have to reduce the number of sports --especially as the effects of Title IX are felt -- and establish priorities. However, as some smaller sports are minimally funded, the savings will be minimal.

9. Evaluate organization of athletic operations. The reporting structure needs to be improved so coaches do not go around the Athletic Director directly to the Keydet Club for support.

10. Emphasize the VMI tradition. Coaches need to select players who want to be part of VMI.

11. Accomodate fifth year students. The problem involves living in barracks the fifth year. VMI needs to determine where fifth-year (ninth semester) cadets will live.

12. Reduce the strength of football schedule. VMI needs to schedule down so it can achieve a number of wins. Eventually, a winning program will change the attitude of the players and create a new atmosphere of optimism.

13. Football coaches need to adjust to the VMI environment. The coaches need to understand the demands on the time of players, and some action needs to adjust the academic schedule of players.

14. Housing assistance for football coaches. VMI must look into housing assistance for assistant coaches.

15. Improve facilities. This is key to recruitment and retention. The main field needs a better playing surface; the practice fields need to be improved. VMI athletic facilities are over used.

16. Commit to Southern Conference program. The consultants feel that VMI belongs in I-AA and in the Southern Conference. The Institute cannot drop to Division II in football without dropping other sports to that division. Other sports have been successful in Division I-AA. VMI should remain in Division I-AA and make a commitment to that and commit the necessary resources.

17. Explore possibility of Division III. The consultants feel this is not the place for VMI.

So...those are the recommendations of the consultants. The minutes from the football meeting also contain recaps of remarks offered by others who spoke at the conference (i.e., representatives from the USNA, William and Mary, W&L, Hampden-Sydney, etc.).

The latter part of the meeting involved team discussions. That is, those present divided into three teams, discussed the information provided, and reported back with team reports to the entire group with their own team recommendations.

I'll have to say that the minutes make for some pretty interesting reading. We'll have to wait and see what happens. As I noted in a previous update, the Corps has already returned to a version of cafeteria-style dining.

A New Twist on the Hazing Incident: The following recently appeared in the Roanoke Times. This article puts a different spin on the alleged hazing incident.

Ex-cadet seeking assault charges against seniors
Cadet's dad says beatings all in the spirit of camaraderie

One freshman's father says his son took the punishment along with Keith
Wade, but that it was all in good fun.


   The story being told by a former Virginia Military Institute freshman
seeking assault charges against four seniors who allegedly struck him
with belts and coat hangers is different than the story he told in
October, said the father of another freshman involved in the incident.

   George Wade Jr., of Henrico, and his parents have said in news
reports that Wade was beaten with a belt and a coat hanger on the
buttocks several times a week over a period of almost two months.

   VMI has since suspended three seniors for a semester and punished a
fourth less severely. Wade left the school at Thanksgiving, and two
weeks ago began pursuing assault charges against three of the seniors,
after the college declined to pursue hazing charges.

   The five other freshman "rats" who were allegedly struck during the
fall semester remain at VMI. One of those rats is Keith Just, Wade's
best friend from high school. Donald Just said in a letter to the VMI
student newspaper that he discussed the incidents at his Richmond home
with his son and Wade last fall. Just said both students portrayed the
incidents to him as "whacks" given in an atmosphere of "fun."

   "We laughed about this stuff," Donald Just said Thursday. "I mean
they were laughing about it."

   George Wade Jr., however, denies discussing the alleged beatings with
Donald Just until after Christmas. And he said his story hasn't changed.

   Just, however, said he recalled telling his son and Wade in October
how he was whacked with a paddle by his fraternity big brother in

   Just said the two seemed to feel somewhat "honored" by the attention
from the VMI seniors, "that these guys would make them part of the

   "There was nothing malicious, injurious. ... I mean, it was fun. They
would gather in the rooms and sort of dare [the seniors], with sort of a
'bring it on' attitude."

   "If I'd have sensed anything that was wrong," Just said, "you can bet
I would have been on the phone to the university."

   When he saw news reports in which Wade talked of mean-spirited
beatings that left welts on his legs, he was "astounded at the reversal"
in Wade's impression of the events.

   Wade Jr. said he doesn't recall talking with Donald Just during the
semester, much less about the beatings, which even his family didn't
know about until November. He said he discussed the meeting with Just
after Christmas, and he recalls the mention of Just's fraternity days.
But Wade Jr. said there wasn't any levity in his remarks.

   George Wade Sr. said neither Just nor his son can know what happened
to Wade, because the two rats were struck on the buttocks together on
just one occasion.

   "And does he [Just] think that because it's fun that this behavior is
justified?" Wade Sr. asked.

   "I'm not apologizing for this conduct at all," Donald Just said. "If
they broke the rules, the offenders should have been punished."

   The thrust of Just's letter to "The Cadet" was a defense of his son's
"dyke," or mentor, who is an honor court prosecutor and one of the three
suspended seniors. Just would not name the senior, but other sources at
VMI have identified him as Brett McGinley of Carlisle, Pa.

   Just called McGinley "a young man without malice of any kind," and he
said he is "grateful" for McGinley's good influence on his son.

   Just wrote that he is convinced McGinley's actions "were in no way
criminal. ... Unless, of course, noogies, Indian burns, slap tag,
wrestling, charley horses, shaving cream in the eyes, 10-minute leg
lifts, towel pops, mud puddle pushups and a hundred other 'atrocities'
young men inflict upon one another in the ordinary course of college
life also qualify."

   VMI Superintendent Josiah Bunting III has called the actions of
McGinley and the others "reprehensible."

   George Wade Jr. said he is not pursuing charges against McGinley,
because he is the only one of the four seniors involved who did not
strike him. The other suspended cadets have been identified by sources
at VMI as John Gonzalez of Mechanicsville and Charles Travers "Buck"
Clemons of Richmond.

   Wade Jr. said he can't understand Just's attack on his credibility
because he never testified about anything regarding McGinley.

   The state police are investigating the case at the request of
Rockbridge County/Lexington Commonwealth's Attorney Gordon Saunders.

   Just said no one investigating the case has contacted him about his
letter, which was published a week ago.

   "Someone at least has to look at the story for consistency," Just
said. "And it's not the least bit consistent. I know my son does not
corroborate his [Wade's] story."

   "If they don't contact me at some point, I'm going to at least make
sure they have this point of view."

So...What's Going on down at The Citadel?: Here's a different article addressing the situation down at The Citadel.

Citadel Disputes Charges of Hazing
.c The Associated Press

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - The president of the Citadel took exception Tuesday to a U.S. Justice Department memo that said hazing exists to a ``disturbing degree'' at the state military school.

The Aug. 13 memo outlines the investigation into the 1996 hazing of two female cadets and describes how other cadets carved letters into a male cadet's chest, punched staples into another's and cut another cadet's face with a sword.

The memo said ``hazing, including physical abuse, still exists to a disturbing degree'' at The Citadel.

``Mistreating people because of legitimate injury or illness ... unfortunately seems to be the way of life at The Citadel,'' said the memo obtained by The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer under the Freedom of Information Act.

``I can't say that applies today,'' said the school's president, John Grinalds, who became president in August and immediately took steps to crack down on hazing. ``Hazing is not commonplace.''

Grinalds' changes included putting more adults in the barracks, rewriting college rules and stressing a philosophy that leading people does not mean abusing them

The Justice Department said in January there was not enough evidence to prove that former cadets Jeanie Mentavlos and Kim Messer were harassed and had their clothes set afire solely because they were women.

A local prosecutor also said there were no grounds for criminal charges.

The two women have sued the school or the cadets allegedly involved.

The memo, which explains why civil-rights charges were not brought against anyone, said there ``is little doubt'' the incidents described by the women happened in some manner.

But it said their statements ``could be used to support a defense that while not totally fabricating, the victims are now exaggerating their accounts'' of having their clothes burned.

The school disciplined 14 male cadets in the incidents.

Hey, that's it for this week.

Yours in the Spirit,
RB Lane '75

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Last Updated: October 11, 2009

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