Former Navy footballer, baseball players had right of appeal after pro sports request denied

Cameron Kinley of the Navy carries an American flag as the team takes on Tulsa at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium on Dec. 5, 2020 in Annapolis, Md. (Rob Carr, Getty Images/TNS)

(Tribune News Service) – Three days before graduating from the Naval Academy, Cameron Kinley and Charlie Connolly were called to a meeting with the commanding officer of midshipmen – Col. James “JP” McDonough III.

McDonough informed the two senior athletes that their requests to delay active duty for the purpose or pursue professional sports had been denied. Connolly and Kinley would later learn that Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas W. Harker had refused to forward their packages seeking to pursue the professional sports option to the Secretary of Defense.

Connolly and Kinley were then told they could not appeal Harker’s decision.

Turns out that wasn’t true.

U.S. Navy spokeswoman Lt. Emily Wilkin released a statement in The Capital on Tuesday night that revealed there were, in fact, “avenues of review available.” After meeting with Navy leaders and learning their options, Kinley elected to proceed with the review while Connolly declined.

On Tuesday, the Navy announced that Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III had approved Kinley’s request to delay his active duty commitment in order to attend training camp with the National League’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers. soccer.

“Cameron Kinley was entitled to submit a petition to the Board for Correction of Naval Records (BCNR), explaining that the decision not to forward his request to delay commissioning to participate in professional sports was a mistake or injustice necessitating a correction by BCNR and relief by the Secretary of Defense,” Wilkin said in the statement.

After reviewing the request, the Naval Records Board of Correction made a recommendation, which Harker approved and forwarded to the Secretary of Defense.

Austin then rescinded Kinley’s commission, granted his request to delay commissioning, and transferred the 2021 Naval Academy graduate to individual ready reserve with enlisted status.

Kinley is now drafted into the Ready Individual Reserve for a maximum of eight years at a rank no higher than E-4, per Department of Defense instructions. If Kinley doesn’t make the NFL, he’ll be recommissioned and begin serving as a naval intelligence officer.

“This plan will see Cameron enlist in the inactive reserve for the duration of his football career,” Secretary Austin said in a statement released Tuesday evening. “Once his playing time is over, we look forward to welcoming him back into the ranks as a naval officer.”

“In the meantime, we know Cameron will take every opportunity on and off the field to competently represent the Navy and Army to the American people and to assist us in our recruiting efforts,” Austin continued. “I applaud Navy leaders for finding this way to showcase both Cameron’s athletic prowess, as well as the quality and professionalism of our student-athletes and staff.”

President Joe Biden has even spoken out on the matter by issuing a statement. As President of the Class of 2021, Kinley spoke at the Naval Academy graduation and presented Vice President Kamala Harris, the guest speaker, with a Navy jacket.

“I’m confident Cameron will represent the Navy well in the NFL, just as he did as a standout athlete and class president at the Naval Academy,” Biden said.

Wilkin said the Board of Correction of Naval Records is committed to providing current and former members of the Navy and Marine Corps with the highest level of administrative review to correct errors or injustices in their records.

Connolly chose not to petition the BCNR because he ultimately did not want to give up his commission and be transferred to the inactive reserve. The right-handed pitcher with a blazing fastball was likely to be taken in the Major League Baseball Entry Draft (to be held July 11-13) if Harker initially approved his request to delay active duty.

“Consequently, Connolly remains a commissioned officer fulfilling the requirements of his current military enlistment. He is currently an assigned ensign at the Naval Academy and will report on his next assignment to begin surface warfare officer training,” Wilkin wrote. .

Connolly did not return phone calls from The Capital seeking comment. However, he communicated through Navy baseball coach Paul Kostacopoulos that he did not pursue the appeal process because he did not want his commission as a Navy officer navy be cancelled.

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