As a part of its continued review of Steven Rhodes’ eligibility, NCAA staff determined he may play immediately. Additionally, he will maintain all four years of his eligibility.
Throughout this process, NCAA staff worked closely with Middle Tennessee State University, and we appreciate the school’s partnership.
As a part of the ongoing review of NCAA rules, our members will examine the organized competition rules, especially as it impacts those returning from military service.
We thank Steven for his service to our country and wish him the best as he begins college.
— Kevin Lennon, vice president of academic and membership affairs
Thursday, August 22, 2013
Here's the official response by the NCAA....
Monday, August 19, 2013
|The wordmark and logo for Middle Tennessee State University. This logo has replaced Image:Mtsu old logo.jpg. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (AP) -- The NCAA has ruled that a Middle Tennessee football player who spent five years in the Marines will be allowed to compete this fall and that he will have four years of eligibility remaining.
It's a reversal from the NCAA's earlier decision to rule Steven Rhodes was ineligible because he played in a recreational league during his military service. School officials had said earlier Monday that they were working with NCAA officials to come up with a solution.
"This is exciting news for Steven and Middle Tennessee State University," school President Sidney McPhee said in a 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."
Late Monday afternoon, the NCAA issued a news release saying Rhodes could play immediately and member schools would continue to re-examine the competition rules, especially as it impacts those returning from military service. Rhodes has been practicing at both tight end and defensive end
The NCAA ruled freshman Steven Rhodes can "play immediately" for MTSU after serving 5 years in the Marines http://t.co/Q3aQ0F02wa
— ESPN CollegeFootball (@ESPNCFB) August 19, 2013
- CFT: NCAA comes around, grants MTSU player immediate eligibility (collegefootballtalk.nbcsports.com)
- NCAA: Former Marine Rhodes may play in 2013 (cbssports.com)
- NCAA declares U.S. Marine Steven Rhodes immediately eligible (tracking.si.com)
NCAA. This is a travesty. When I was in Germany, the U.S. Army had a intramural flag football league, so are we to believe that these veterans shouldn't be allowed to go to college and play football? This is absolutely shameful. Disgusting!
Adam Sparks, The Daily News Journal — Steven Rhodes felt a duty to serve his country and had a dream to play football.
But now, to his surprise, one is hindering the other in the peculiar case of the United States Marine and 24-year-old MTSU freshman football player versus the NCAA.
“This is extremely frustrating. I think it’s unfair, highly unfair,” Rhodes said. “I just got out of the Marine Corps, and I wanted to play. For (the NCAA) to say, ‘No, you can’t play right now,’ I just don’t understand the logic in that.”
Rhodes, an Antioch native, finished his five years of active service in the Marines this summer, when he called MTSU coaches in hopes of landing a spot as a walk-on player for the Blue Raiders. They happily granted the request of the athletic 6-foot-3, 240-pound Marine sergeant. He has played both tight end and defensive end thus far in preseason camp.
But not long after arriving on campus, Rhodes was told that his participation in a military-only recreational football league in 2012 would hinder his immediate eligibility to play Division I college football, per an NCAA rule.
Despite his age, military service and complete lack of college football experience, Rhodes must take a mandatory redshirt and not play a single game for MTSU this season.
Hey @NCAA I'm a vet and a coach at a member institution... this decision is shameful. Fix yourselves. http://t.co/74pncv4I7z
— Matt Thomas (@matty_r_thomas) August 18, 2013