Drill instructors from Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, California, engage the Semper Fi Bowl East Team's student athletes in January 2014. The Marine Corps announced then that the 2014 Semper Fi Bowl would be the last due to budget cuts, but they've now brought it back. (Cpl. Caitlin Brink/Marine Corps)
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Marine Corps officials will reinstate funding for the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl, a high-profile recruiting event that brings together dozens of high school football players from across the country each year. Earlier, the Corps had announced the program would be cut due to budgetary constraints.
Marine Corps Recruiting Command received additional mid-year funding from higher headquarters, said Jim Edwards, a Recruiting Command spokesman. That will allow the command to execute the next bowl game in January 2015, he said.
Maj. Gen. Mark Brilakis, commanding general of MCRC, told Marine Corps Times in the fall that the command was weighing the benefits of the bowl as officials looked for ways to work through fiscal constraints caused by across-the-board budgetary spending cuts. But about five months after they decided to put the program on hold, a funding change has brought it back.
“The commandant has decided that this is one of those premiere events that he would like us to continue and provided the resources necessary to do it,” Brilakis said, according to a Marine Corps news release.
The Marine Corps spends about $2.6 million annually on the program, Edwards said. Launched in 2011, the Semper Fi Bowl brings together about 90 high school foot ball players from across the country to face off in a game that pits players from the Eastern and Western United States against each other. Players are selected based on their athletic abilities, personal character, academic performance and leadership.
The game is normally nationally televised from California. The players participate in a week-long event that has them interacting with Marine Corps leaders, drill instructors and recruiters. The players are given jerseys, gear and equipment, and their meals and travel are paid for.
Edwards said the command has seen benefit in the opportunity to introduce Marine Corps values and culture to players from across the country.
“The Semper Fidelis Football Program as an opportunity to establish a strong connection with America's youth,” he said. “[The program] has been part of our overall recruiting plan and has enabled our recruiting force to engage well-rounded student athletes, parents and influencers throughout the nation.”
The next bowl game will be similar in scope to the 2014 game, Edwards said. Returning funding to the program won’t pull dollars away from any of MCRC’s other initiatives, he added.