October 4, 2022
Defense secretary Lloyd Austin lets four Navy athletes try for pro-sports careers first

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin will allow four members of the U.S. Naval Academy’s athletic teams to delay their military service in order to try out for the NFL and other pro-sports leagues.

Midshipman 1st Class Diego Fagot was offered a contract as an undrafted preferred free agent by the Baltimore Ravens after the 2022 NFL draft. Midshipman 1st Class Michael McMorris was invited by the Washington Commanders to their undrafted free agent rookie camp following this year’s draft.

Midshipman Fagot was scheduled to enter the Marine Corps as a ground officer following his graduation while Midshipman McMorris was slated to become a Navy surface warfare officer.

Mr. Austin also agreed to allow military delays for Midshipman 1st Class Jennifer Coleman, who was offered a contract as an undrafted preferred free agent by the Washington Mystics following the 2022 WNBA draft; and Midshipman 1st Class Matthew Nocita, who was selected by the New York Red Bulls in the first round of the 2022 Major League Soccer SuperDraft.

Midshipman Coleman was scheduled to become a Navy surface warfare officer while Midshipman Nocita would have become a Marine Corps ground officer.

As part of the arrangement, all four student-athletes will enlist in the Navy or Marine Corps Individual Ready Reserve while they seek to play professional sports.

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“I know Jennifer, Diego, Michael and Matthew will take every opportunity on and off the court or field to ably represent the Navy and the Marine Corps to the American people and to assist us in our recruiting efforts,” Vice Adm. Sean Buck, superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy, said in a statement.

All four still must complete the required active-duty service obligation of at least five years, but Mr. Austin’s decisions allow them to do so after the conclusion of their professional-sports careers, officials said.

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