A Letter to Army Fans

Army West Point Director of Athletics Mike Buddie with a letter to Army fans. Graphic by Army Athletic Communications

Dear Army Fans,

During these trying times, we have engaged in critical dialogue on the outlook for college athletics for the 2020-21 season, and we continue to assess where Army West Point Athletics fits into that conversation. I know that you all have questions, especially as the fall sports season rapidly approaches, so I want to share some of our planning scenarios with you.
While the conversation continues throughout the entire sports world, it extends to different boundaries when speaking on behalf of our cadet-athletes. Every decision we make is in cohesion with the academy’s mission to prepare our cadets to be officers in the U.S. Army throughout their 47-month experience at West Point.
Unlike other programs in America, our cadet-athletes do not get the opportunity to make up for the lost time in their sports. Our Army needs them to lead platoons of our nations’ sons and daughters, expecting nothing but the best of their newly-minted platoon leaders. Recent announcements from athletic conferences around the country have had severe impacts on our fall sports scheduling. Still, we remain committed to finding a way for our teams to compete this year.
With that mission in mind, it is on us as leaders of this institution to do everything to get our athletes on the field, while making safety our top priority. This conversation has led us to evaluate our health protocols throughout the academy. These assessments will require us to make adjustments to the way athletic competitions are conducted at West Point this fall. Our goal is to be transparent with these protocols and associated risks, allowing our fans to gather relevant information before deciding whether to attend athletic events at West Point (if that is an option). We remain confident that we can present a safe environment for our athletes, coaches, staff and Army fans.
The U.S. Military Academy is uniquely equipped to address these challenges. We continuously confer with some of the most seasoned planners in the U.S. Army, led by our Superintendent Lt. Gen. Darryl A. Williams. In 2014, he led the United States Department of Defense response to the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa as the Commander of Joint Force Command-United Assistance. Keller Army Community Hospital, here at West Point, has its own Director of Public Health, which has been invaluable to the implementation of COVID-19 related protocols around the post.
As we move forward with our plans for the fall, we cannot ignore the realities of the current situation and must anticipate that conditions may worsen to the point where competing this year would not be feasible. We have contingencies in place if competitions are canceled or venue capacities are significantly limited.
In the event games are canceled and not replaced, or future regulations restrict the number of attendees allowed, season ticket holders would have three options to choose from regarding their previous payments for season tickets:
1.) Convert the previous payment to a 2020 tax-deductible athletic gift
2.) Apply payments toward the 2021 season
3.) Request a refund
I reiterate that no decisions have been made at this point regarding attendance at Army West Point events for the 2020 season. Further guidance will be given to season ticket holders should that status change in the coming weeks.
We have been working models for 100%, 45% and 35% capacity options at Michie Stadium for our home games and will adopt the safest model on a week-to-week basis as we continue to monitor best practices for risk mitigation.
While I sincerely hope that you will consider the first option in support of our cadets, please know that we are committed to providing great customer service to our loyal fan base. We are well aware that the COVID pandemic is affecting all of you, so please don’t hesitate to call the Army Ticket Office at 877-TIX-ARMY or the A Club at 845-938-2322 with any questions or comments.
A scenario without competition presents us with another challenge throughout the Army West Point Athletics family: our budget. There is no denying that a year without athletic revenue would cause a considerable strain on the Army West Point Athletic Association’s long-term operations.
During these uncertain times, we are committed to providing an extraordinary Division I athletic experience for our more than 1,000 outstanding cadet-athletes in their relentless pursuit of competitive excellence. Donor support of the Army A Club creates a margin of excellence. It directly contributes to Army West Point Athletics’ ability to develop leaders of character committed to the values of Duty, Honor, Country.
As Gen. Douglas MacArthur famously said, “Upon the fields of friendly strife are sown the seeds that upon other fields on other days will bear the fruits of victory.” These words allude to the importance of competition in building our cadets into the great leaders that they can become in the U.S. Army. With safety at the forefront of our decisions, we will continue to do everything we can to support the U.S. Military Academy’s mission to get our cadet-athletes on the field in 2020.
There is no group of intercollegiate athletes in the country more deserving of our support than those at West Point. Together, with safety at the forefront of our decisions, we will emerge from these uncertain times united. It will provide us with an even greater appreciation for the relentless pursuit of excellence that our cadet-athletes display each and every day as leaders in the Corps, classroom and on these fields of friendly strife.
Go Army!
Mike Buddie
Director of Athletics
Army West Point Athletic Association