NCAA Reverses Ruling, Marine Eligible to Play College Football

by
posted on August 22, 2013
sinews.jpg (24)

Steven Rhodes, a 24-year-old freshman at MTSU, was initially informed by the NCAA he wouldn't be allowed to play college football because he played in a recreational football league while a Marine.

MTSU won a partial appeal to the NCAA last week, recouping two years of eligibility for Rhodes with his recreational league spanning two academic years.

A current bylaw in NCAA regulations stipulates that any athlete who does not enroll in college immediately after high school loses a year of eligibility for every year he or she participates in an "organized" sports activity. Prior to a 2011 regulation change, members of the armed forces were completely exempt from that specific guideline, but an alteration made at that time only exempts military personnel who participate in skiing and ice hockey.

When the Rhodes case first came to the attention of the news media last week with a report in the (Murfreesboro) Daily News Journal, the 6-foot, 3-inch, 240-pound former Marine sergeant said the recreational league was loosely "organized," at best.

"It was like intramurals for us," Rhodes told the local newspaper. "There were guys out there anywhere from 18 to 40-something years old…we once went six weeks between games."

An Aug. 19 letter to NCAA president Tom Emmert in support of Rhodes by U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-TN), whose district includes Murfreesboro read, in part:

"Mr. Rhodes has given the sacrifice of service to his country, displaying not only leadership but all of the qualities that the NCAA wants its student-athletes to emulate and represent. Mr. Rhodes is seeking to be a 'walk-on' athlete, paying for his own education and working to enhance his life both academically as well as athletically. Instead of celebrating and encouraging this endeavor, the NCAA is using an obtuse interpretation of its own bylaws on an issue in which I believe this outcome was never intended to address. And while the NCAA does not necessarily owe Mr. Rhodes the opportunity to play collegiate football, his compelling story should be an inspiration and an admirable example for all of its student-athletes."

That same afternoon, an official release from Kevin Lennon, NCAA vice president of academic and membership affairs, announced Rhodes would be eligible to play immediately and that the organization would review its current policy regarding the college sports eligibility of military veterans.

While overdue, the announcement was unanimously welcomed by military supporters—and sportswriters—as well as MTSU president, Dr. Sidney McPhee.

"This is exciting news for Steven and Middle Tennessee State University," Dr. McPhee said in a prepared statement. "We express our gratitude to the NCAA for reviewing this situation and granting Steven the ability to play this fall. We are hopeful that the NCAA will look at the bylaws regarding all individuals who serve in the military before becoming a student-athlete."

The Blue Raiders open their season Aug. 29, hosting Western Carolina University.

Latest

Mesa tactical shotshell holder
Mesa tactical shotshell holder

First Look: Mesa Tactical Sureshell Carrier with RMR Mount

Mount a red dot to your shotgun and keep your spare shotgun ammo close at hand.

The Best of the Blowbacks: Mauser HSc and the Heckler & Koch Model 4

In the April 2022 issue of Shooting Illustrated, this column looked at my all-time favorite carry gun, the Colt Model M or 1903/1908. This month we look at my favorite European semi-automatic, the Mauser HSc and its cousin, the Heckler & Koch Model 4.

Wilson Acquires New Ultralight Arms

The bolt-action rifle manufacturer joins other companies such as Lehigh Defense and Chip McCormick Customs.

First Look: New FN 15 DMR Rifles from FN America

New Geissele triggers, SureFire muzzle devices and hybrid barrel profies are just some of the upgrades.

First Look: Bond Arms Grizzly

Packing the power of either .45 Colt or .410-bore shotshells in a pint-sized package.

Developing Good Shooting Habits

Consistency and repetition are the keys to building on-demand skills.

Interests



Get the best of Shooting Illustrated delivered to your inbox.