Steven Rhodes served his country for five years as a United States Marine. The 24-year-old has enrolled at Middle Tennessee University and joined the football team as a walk-on, playing wide receiver and defensive end.
The NCAA has decided that Steven isn’t eligible to play this season because he participated in a military-only recreational league in 2012. Even though it was a loosely-run league that sometimes went six weeks between games, the NCAA says that because the teams kept score and there were uniforms and referees, the league counts as “organized competition.”
UDPATE (Tuesday, 8/20): The NCAA heard the complaints and decided that Rhodes can play this season. Of course, you could point out that ignoring one of the organization’s own rules (no matter how misguided it might be) opens up all the other rules to challenges. Let’s not do that here and just be glad that Steven Rhodes get the shot he deserves.
There’s an in-depth article about Rhodes’ predicament in the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal. In short, it says that the massive NCAA rulebook once made an exception for athletes who had played in military leagues but that somehow got lost in a series of revisions.
Can an organization that refuses to revise its rules to allow athletes to receive a tiny share of the massive amounts of cash that now flows into college athletics get its act together to correct this injustice? Probably not, but, if you want to write or call, you can get the NCAA’s address and phone number here. Or get with the modern times and contact them on Twitter or Facebook.
You can also watch a (non-embeddable) video interview with Rhodes here.