West Point’s official website has a page for its Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Equal Opportunity (ODIEO). This office has an online section called “Why Diversity Matters.”
“The Armed Forces represent the nation it defends, including by reflecting our nation’s diversity. There is a growing divide between the demographics of the military and that of the American people. An Army not representative of the nation risks becoming illegitimate in the eyes of the people. It is imperative that we leverage all aspects of the nation’s diversity to include gender, ethnicity, religion, education, thought, sexual orientation, and cultural background to create and sustain an inclusive organization that attracts the best the Nation has to offer.”[i]
The phrase “meritocracy” is nowhere to be found on the ODIEO page.
In 131 years of Army Football, USMA has had 37 head coaches. All have been White. The most recent coach, Jeff Monken, has been Army’s head coach since 2014. All 3 of the current Army Football main coaches (head coach, offensive coordinator, and defensive coordinator) are also White. If the entire Army football team was White, the argument could be made that the head coach and main coaches reflected the demographics of the Army football team. This, however, is not the case. West Point is not alone – both the Air Force Academy and Naval Academy also have White head coaches despite having similar racial percentages of college students and football players. Does having all White head coaches for USMA’s football team, which is very much in the public eye, make West Point “illegitimate” in the minds of the American people?
The following are demographics of the 2023 Army football team[ii]:
181 players Black 77 42.5%
White 99 54.7%
Hispanic 2 1.8%
Asian 2 3.6%
The United States’ population is 13% Black. 12% of USMA’s cadet population is Black. If USMA was leveraging diversity to achieve the “imperative,” two things would be different about the demographics of the Army Football team. First, the team would have only 22 Black football players on it (12%) to mirror West Point and America. However, like the NFL that is 57% Black, Army’s football team appears to recruit and field players based on meritocracy, not blind adherence for diversity percentages for diversity’s sake. The much higher percentage of Black players is almost universal amongst all college and pro teams (that want to win). Second, with nearly half of the players being Black, it would seem intuitive and fair, according to the massive push at West Point and the Army, to increase the percentage of senior leaders who are Black, that the head coach of Army after 131 years would have been Black at least once. However, USMA’s football team appears similar to teams in the NFL where, despite 57% of the players being Black, only 3 of 32 coaches in 2023 are Black. Don’t forget that this is over 3 years after George Floyd and 7 years after Colin Kaepernick knelt. NFL teams field the best players and coaches available, regardless of race. The NFL doesn’t use quotas for either number. It seems obvious that West Point’s football team is making the same decisions based on meritocracy based on individual ability and not by sheer raw demographic numbers to make the percentages of race of players and coaches mirror the percentages in the West Point corps of cadets and in America at large.
Following the direction of the greater Department of Defense, West Point has put tremendous effort into parroting the virtues of DEI and making the case that forcing demographic percentages on leaders and followers was an “imperative.” It is curious that Army Football, which seems to be one the of chief foci of the modern military academy, has chosen to ignore the DEI ideology and boldly choose players and coaches based on raw talent. There has been no outcry to fix the percentages and/or hire a non-White head coach. The infamous 2020 manifesto called “Policy Proposal: An Anti-Racist West Point” that was sent to the Superintendent by recent graduates and decried systemic racism at West Point, made no mention of the unending line of White football coaches.[iii] Although the 2020 IG investigation that resulted from the manifesto concluded that there was in fact no systemic racism at West Point, the USMA leadership opened the door for DEI’s ideology to begin indoctrination in seemingly every corner of the academy. That is, everywhere except in football.
One obvious conclusion is that by disregarding DEI’s draconian and erroneous ideals in one of West Point’s most public forums (Division 1 football), USMA doesn’t actually believe in DEI. The other, more shocking conclusion, may be that West Point may buy into DEI but isn’t willing to risk its implementation in Army Football. West Point, is however, willing to unleash it on what it perceives to be far less important – the mandate to train cadets to be officers that can lead the Army and win wars. Unfortunately, in the real world, winning wars is actually far more important than winning football games. Hopefully in time, West Point’s leaders will wake up this fact and rectify the disconnect between the imperative of DEI and perpetually having White coaches lead a team whose rosters are nearly 50/50 White and Black. Better yet, the analysis of Army football’s demographics should be the evidence that DEI is a lie and should be eliminated from the West Point campus. LTG Gilland and West Point cannot have it both ways. The Army and nation deserve better from USMA leadership.
John Hughes, MD, (www.americandoctor.org) is the author of American Doctor – Coming Home to War and a writer on medical and military matters. He is a 1996 West Point graduate, veteran of Haiti/Iraq/Afghanistan, and is a practicing Emergency Physician. He is a contributor to CDMedia and Armed Forces Press, has been featured in Real Clear Defense, Washington Examiner, and American Thinker, and has been a medical expert for Epoch Times. He is a leader in the MacArthur Society of West Point Graduates and a member of STARRS.US.
This letter is the opinion of the author and does not represent the stance of any organizations or corporations.