Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Allard Question Academy Brass About Allegations

Allard questions academy brass about allegations


Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., called Air Force superintendent Lieutenant General John F. Regni on Monday to ask about a report that baseball coach Mike Hutcheon might have pushed his religious views on players, said Steve Wymer, Allard’s deputy press secretary. Allard’s call was in response to a story in the Sunday edition of The Gazette.

The article quoted unnamed players who said Hutcheon pushed his religious views on players or favored players with similar outlooks. The Gazette reported that 31 varsity players from the 2004, 2005 and 2006 seasons either quit the team or were pushed out by Hutcheon and detailed a near mutiny in 2005.

Allard was assured by Regni, according to Wymer, that the academy had looked into the allegations and would continue to monitor the situation. Regni told Allard, Wymer said, that the situation was “of concern and that they have been and would be looking into it.” Wymer said Allard would follow up with Regni later. Hutcheon has denied that religion is a factor in how he treats players, and the academy’s leadership has expressed support for him.

Asked to comment on the story in Sunday’s Gazette, Air Force Academy spokesman Johnny Whitaker said: “We’re disappointed that the paper chose this route to make a major story based on what we looked into and considered to be meritless, anonymous allegations. “

We received pretty much the same anonymous letters and comments, and we looked into them and found them to be baseless, without substance. “We hired coach Hutcheon to come in here and clean up a program and add discipline and rigor. It was out of control. That’s what he’s doing and we whole-heartedly support him.”

Political activist Mikey Weinstein, meantime, said he was “outraged” by what he read in the story. An Air Force graduate who has a pending lawsuit against the academy for religious intolerance, Weinstein said Monday he has been thinking about filing a motion to amend the lawsuit and “add these accounts (in the article) and use this evidence and determine who we may or may not want to call as witnesses.”

Weinstein said he was most upset by what he said was an inadequate investigation into the allegations by the academy.

“When I see how the academy, quote, investigated it, it must have taken all of about 45 minutes,” Weinstein said. “They’re trying to say, ‘Move along, move along. Nothing to see here.’”


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