West Point Admissions Athlete Standards

In our last post Athletes and Admissions we mentioned some of the problems with recruiting athletes. This was covered also in the excellent “Carved from Granite.” Let’s dive deeper into some of the numbers. You’ll be shocked to learn more!

First, some housekeeping. We chose data from classes of 2010-2017 to include fully graduated classes. We joined the corps squad sports from the extracurriculars tabs to the cadet IDs. This results in an imperfect dataset–what happens if a cadet played more than one Corps Squad (Varsity) sport? And there were some discrepancies in the data we attribute to entry error. But it does allow some initial findings on athlete performance relative to the rest of the Corps, who have to participate in intramurals or club sports.

Using our trusty friend the Excel pivot-table, we first pull the typical class profile including all cadets who attended by race, their average Math + Verbal scores, number of separations and separation rates.

A:Asian B:Black H: Hispanic N: Native American O:Other W:White

So far, nothing new. We see a consistent variation in test scores and separations by race that has been previously discussed.

Let’s now provide a side-by-side view of Non-Corps-Squad Cadets and Corps-Squad cadets:

How do they compare? We check separation rates and test scores in athletes vs non-athletes.

  • Athletes score less than non-athletes on tests. 60 points is about .3 Standard Deviation ( “SD”, assuming a 195 SD). This trend (though not the exact number) holds across every racial category.
  • Athletes actually separate at a slightly lower rate than non-athletes overall, except for White and Asian athletes, who–bucking the trend–separate at higher rates.
  • The non-athlete group test scores shows a consistent Race group score difference. If we can’t attribute the difference in scores to recruited athletic participation, then why does the score gap persist?
  • The ratios by race of Athletes to Non-Athletes (corps squad, excluding club & Intramural (IM) sports) are:

The Black athlete ratio is nearly 50% higher than the next highest “O”ther race, and more than double the overall average. Asians are “underrepresented” in Corps Squad athletics.

The lower-than-non-athlete scores are of course averages so the smart athlete you know is likely the exception! SD estimates are based on the US averages found here. An overview of the separation rates and scores differences between the Corps Squad and Non-Corps-Squad cadets are below.

Example: Asian athletes separate at 6% higher rates and have 62 less SAT pts, a 32% Standard Deviation difference, on average than Asian non-athletes

We note that some of the “preferred” minority groups Corps Squad athletes separate at lower rates than non-Corps-Squad athletes despite being relatively cognitively disadvantaged. We don’t know why this is but guess that the Athletes receive much more tutoring and personal academic attention, have easier majors, and live in a more permissive environment than the rest of the corps. We may return to this in future posts.

Now, there are many sports. It would be perhaps unfair to lump them altogether as dumber than the Corps at large. Plus, with all the cheating scandals rumored to be heavily athlete-based, perhaps we can surmise which groups are most at risk. We run the average test scores by sport:

The cross-country, lacrosse, and volleyball teams are the smartest sports, and our Goats are gymnastics, hockey, womens’ tennis and softball, rugby, and football. Perhaps Army should focus on recruiting more Lax players than Football!

Football, far and away, represents the largest group of athletes.

Let’s look more closely at football players (excluding sprint) compared to the general populace.

We see that the Football athletes separate at 29% vs the general population’s 22%. (29-22)/22 = 32% higher separations than non-athlete cadets. Football athletes score on average 125 points, or .64 StDev, less than non-athlete cadets. This is not to pick just on football players, but as the most highly promoted sport at Army (and which displaces the most other qualified candidates from admissions), it’s an obvious area to question. Other sports in the lower end of the aptitude curves show the same types of patterns.

We further note that the racial test score discrepancy persists even for a single sport. Athletes in football are disproportionately Black and have the lowest scores.

The 910 score shown is somewhere in the 30-35th percentile or so of all SAT-takers. Even the White cadets average a 950, which is still sub-40th percentile. And once again these are averages. They are not floors. The lowest Football score that graduated is 810. This is somewhere around the 12th-15th percentile (reading the chart) nationally.

How does someone like that graduate? “Standards”? Recall from the separation rates above that preferred minority athletes separate at significantly lower rates than preferred-minority non-athletes (excluding Asians). One of LTC Heffington’s charges was that academic standards were relaxed for athletes. This bears that out.

West Point apologists will die on their swords that the “WCS” somehow accounts for all this in admissions and admissions does no wrong. They have the luxury of those opinions since they’re not the ones having to live and die by decisions made by 30th-percentile intellectual performers, when those decisions could have easily been made someone in the 70th percentile who wasn’t a football player.

Right now, West Point is passing over those good performers.

Retired BG Betros called out the commercialized college athletics programs as a huge blight on the Academy’s reputation and program and Corps. He was right. The Academy and the Army’s soldiers are suffering for it.

Because otherwise the generals wouldn’t get to raise athletic fundraising dollars and have diversity photo-shoots.

Factual corrections and thoughtful criticism are welcome.

8 thoughts on “West Point Admissions Athlete Standards”

  1. Is there no longer a USMA Judo club in interscholastic competition? Founded by the Class of 1962, it was at one time the most successful athletic program at West Point, in at least one year winning all four national titles – Men’s Women’s/Novice/Advanced!

      • I believe Judo is in. I’ll ask my son (Currently at WP) this morning when I call him to see. I’m a grad from the last millennium and though I don’t have your data, I do have my own observations and those of my son. West Point used to be a Military School that had athletics. Now it’s a Sports school that does some military stuff. I appreciate that they do military activities during the academic year now and that wasn’t the case for my 4 years there. That’s about the only good thing I see with the New Corps. It seems the 4th class system is now a joke. I personally viewed yearlings, likely intoxicated, harassing a new cadet for no reason. I saw video of 4th class development time that looked like a frat pledge at SU. I’m not impressed with recent grads either. I just interviewed 2 Captains, 1 was a swimmer at WP and the other on the wresting team….and came away very disappointed. My son entered WP w/ a 1750 SAT score and all APs. He’s now relegated to tutoring his far less academically gifted classmates as an additional duty. My son is a team player, but even Captain America can’t make an 810 SAT candidate into a passing student. Very sad how far from the old days the New Corps has strayed.

  2. Thanks for your reply. I thought that Judo had received Team status – as did Rugby, another class of ’62 innovation. You are doing brilliant work. Please refresh my recollection of racial classifications A,,B, H, N, O, etc.

  3. I’ve been in frequent contact with Lance Betros since the publication of Carved in Granite. Another brilliant piece of work.


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