West Point grad Toth gets waiver to play in the NFL before completing military service
By CAITLIN M. KENNEY | STARS AND STRIPES Published: August 16, 2019
WASHINGTON — A recent graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point has been given a waiver to pursue a professional football career before completing his commitment to serve in the military, according to news reports.
The exception for 2nd Lt. Brett Toth, a 2018 West Point graduate, comes after President Donald Trump issued a memo in June to revise a Defense Department policy whereby service academy graduates must serve at least two years before pursuing professional athletic careers. Typically, service academy graduates must serve five years on active duty and three years in a reserve status to fulfill their military obligation.
Acting Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy on Thursday evening signed the waiver for Toth, according to CNN.
In Trump’s memo in June, the president directed the defense secretary to develop a policy allowing student athletes from the service academies and ROTC programs to pursue professional sport opportunities immediately after graduation and to defer their military obligations until after their professional sports career.
“Such cadets and midshipmen have a short window of time to take advantage of their athletic talents during which playing professional sports is realistically possible,” Trump wrote in the memo, adding they should still honor their commitment to serve.
Toth was expected to sign a three-year contract with the Philadelphia Eagles, according to ESPN. He serves now as an engineer officer and the Army is expected to allow him to serve the remaining years of active-duty service as an instructor of a ROTC program in Philadelphia when he is not at football practice, according to CNN.
“The Army is very excited that he will now have the opportunity to simultaneously pursue his dream as part of the Eagles team while continuing to serve as an active-duty soldier,” Cynthia O. Smith, an Army spokeswoman, said Friday in a statement.