West Point says it does NOT believe 3 cadets were trying to promote white supremacy by flashing the "OK" hand gesture at the Army vs. Navy football game ... saying it was all a "misplaced joke."
Military officials launched an investigation after the cadets were spotted using the hand gesture multiple times during the ESPN broadcast of the Dec. 14 game.
As we previously reported, the Anti-Defamation League and other watchdog groups have said the hand symbol has been co-opted by white supremacy organizations ... which is why people were shocked to see the cadets flash the sign so proudly on-air.
But now, West Point has released the findings of their investigation -- and they insist the cadets were not trying to promote a racist agenda.
"The evidence strongly supports a finding that [the cadets] made 'OK' hand gestures during the ESPN broadcast of GameDay because they were playing the 'circle game' or 'gotcha game,' " the report says.
"There is no evidence that [the cadets] hold any racist of white supremacist views or attempted to communicate such messages by using the 'OK' hand gesture on national television."
The report explains the "circle game" is an "internationally recognized game in which people attempt to trick someone else into looking at an okay-like hand gesture below the waist."
The cadets say they were trying to "garner attention from a national audience as well as surrounding cadets."
"All three cadets also deny any intention of their okay gesture having a meaning associated with white supremacy ideology or any other movement/ideology that is contrary to the Army Values."
Moving forward, investigators say the military must make a significant effort to "keep training current in order to address changes in the use of hate group symbology."