Navy boot camp launches probe into alleged fitness test cheating
Cheating allegations arose after sailors, fresh from boot camp, struggled to pass the physical fitness assessment at their first school.
Recruit Training Command Great Lakes, Illinois, has launched an investigation into allegations that some recruit division commanders have encouraged recruits to cheat during fitness tests and to report fudged fitness test scores to ensure they pass, Navy officials said.
"The commanding officer of RTC has begun an investigation after receiving information from a number of students struggling to pass their physical fitness assessments tests at their follow-on 'A' school," Lt. Cmdr. Kate Meadows, spokeswoman for the Naval Education and Training Command, told Navy Times on Nov. 13.
"During the initial look, it was alleged that some recruit division commanders were encouraging recruits to report inaccurate push-up and sit-up scores in order to achieve a passing grade."
The initial allegations emerged after a undisclosed number of new students, fresh from boot camp, either failed or struggled to pass a physical fitness assessment after reporting to Nuclear Power 'A' School in Charleston, S.C., according to Navy officials familiar with the matter.
"Those sailors indicated their RDCs were encouraging them to fudge scores to ensure they passed their fitness tests," a source said. "So we're now looking to see what the larger scope of this can be."
But officials aren't only looking at the RDCs initially identified by the students at Nuclear Power School. The investigators have chosen to "cast a wider net," according to an official familiar with the scope of the investigation.
"What we need to do is look at the bigger picture here and if we find this is happening, as is alleged by the students, then finding out why that's happening is the problem we really need to get at," the source said.
"It's about the culture at boot camp and the culture at follow-on schools — are we putting too much emphasis on whether they pass or not and not enough ensuring those having difficulty are getting the help they need to get into shape and achieve the Navy standard?" the source said. "That's what we need to find out."
If misconduct by RDCs or recruits is found to have occurred, that will be dealt with, the official said.
"The ultimate goal is ensure fitness is being developed instead of cheating being encouraged," the official said.
Meadows said she isn't sure how long the investigation will take, but it will be a few weeks at least, because officials plan to interview as many RDCs as possible.