NCAA Does About Face For Marine Vet

NCAA Does About Face For Marine Vet

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You have to give credit to our men and women in uniform, the people that defend us and preserve our freedoms. They put their lives on the line every day so that you and I can remain safe.

One former Marine, Steven Rhodes, had a rude awakening last week when he learned that he would have to sit out his freshman year at Middle Tennessee Statue University because he participated in “organized competition” while serving the United States. That ruling did not sit well with Rhodes, 24, who served for nearly five years before entering MTSU this fall. The university appealed the decisions and after further review, the NCAA reversed course.

Play and Eligibility

In a brief news release on Tuesday, Kevin Lennon, vice president of academic and membership affairs announced that the NCAA ruled in favor of Rhodes, determining that he may play immediately. Moreover, Rhodes will maintain all four years of his eligibility.

The news was warmly received by the university community and Dr. Sidney McPhee, Middle Tennessee’s president. Said McPhee, “We were informed this afternoon that the NCAA has granted full approval to Steven Rhodes’ waiver. This is exciting news for Steven and Middle Tennessee State University. 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.”

Following the Rhodes inquiry the NCAA has promised to review its rules, including organized competition rules, “Especially as it impacts those returning from military service.”

Intramural Football Games

What caused the NCAA to rule against Rhodes was the nature of the organized competition he took advantage of while serving. Rhodes said that the recreational league was nothing close to organized, comparing it with “intramurals.”

Rhodes, a walk-on player for the Blue Raiders, told the Daily News Journal (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) that he had not played football since his senior season at Antioch (Tenn.) High School in 2006, other than the dozen informal games he played while in the Marines. Those contests involved men ranging in age from 18 to 40, pick up games and nothing more.

Rhodes is a defensive end listed at 6-foot, 3 inches and weighing 240 pounds. His wife, Adrienne, is finishing up her last month of active enlistment in the Navy; the couple has two sons.

Professional Football Aspirations

Despite his eligibility, Rhodes will likely be assigned to special teams considering his long pause from the sport. Still, the aerospace major hopes to someday play in the NFL. About the NCAA’s decision Rhodes said, “Thank the Lord, I’m going to play.”

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