West Point Military Academy has expelled eight cadets and held back 53 others for a year over its biggest cheating scandal in more than 40 years.
The centuries-old New York training academy announced the punishments Friday after a full investigation into 72 freshmen and one sophomore accused of cheating on an online freshman calculus exam in May.
It also announced it was scrapping its “willful admission process” that allowed 55 of the cheaters to escape expulsion by confessing.
“West Point must be the gold standard for developing Army officers. We demand nothing less than impeccable character from our graduates,” said Lt. Gen. Darryl A. Williams, the superintendent of the academy overlooking the Hudson River.
Of the 73 cadets investigated, only four cadets were acquitted by a board of their peers, and two cases were dropped due to insufficient evidence, the academy announced in a release Friday.
Six others resigned during the investigation into the scandal, the worst since 1976 when 153 cadets were accused of cheating in an exam.
The majority — 51 — were held back a year, while two others were turned back for six months, the academy said. All 53 are on “suspended separation”, meaning they will be expelled if they violate probationary terms before they graduate.
Of the eight expelled, three accepted the chance to take part in an “academy mentorship program” that allows them to reapply to the academy after serving for up to a year as an enlisted soldier. There is no guarantee of readmission, the academy stressed.
All of those found guilty got an “F” for the course and lost rank and privileges, including the chance to represent the academy. West Point said that 52 of the cadets were athletes no longer on teams.
“Character development is the most important thing we do at West Point. It is critical to building leaders for our Army,” said Williams, the superintendent.
“The tenets of honorable living remain immutable, and the outcomes of our leader development system remain the same, to graduate Army officers that live honorably, lead honorably, and demonstrate excellence,” he said.
The 1976 scandal involved 153 upperclassmen who resigned or were expelled for cheating on an electrical engineering exam.
The secretary of the Army appointed a select commission headed by former astronaut Frank Borman to review the case, and more than 90 of those caught cheating were reinstated and allowed to graduate.
With Post wires