NCAA Bans Marine Vet From Playing Football



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.

  • Bruce Walters

    This is a repost. I’m so pissed, I forgot the USCG in the first one. Semper Paratus!
    I understand that the NCAA feels they have to draw the line between amateur and professional athlete somewhere. Let me help.
    Draw a line around Paris Island, Ft. Benning, Lackland AFB, Cape May, and the Great Lakes Naval Training Center. NCAA, stay the hell out.
    From the time a recruit steps through these gates, and until such time they step away from military service with DD-214 in hand, NCAAA, leave them the hell alone.

    Read more:
    Under the Radar

  • Martin F. Stewart

    NCAA – None of your Effing Business! Mr. Rhodes paid his dues and obviously the Middle Tennessee Coaches think he is qualified…End of Subject!

  • Dottie

    tell the NCAA to go get stuffed he served his country but he isnt good enough to play on your teams kiss my grits

  • Lee

    Whether he is a Marine or not is not the point here. He did not play in a professional capacity, and as such, he is still an amateur. And therefore entitled to play college football.

  • Edward Elba

    NCAA ? No Clue athletic association? Please please please are you kidding me? There are rules then there is foolishness. NCAA you know where you are on this one. How about the NCAA start serving us

  • moondawg

    Rules are rules and must be obeyed. NCAA rules are important to maintain purity of collage athletics.

    • Josh

      Purity? You gotta be kidding me. It’s all about the $$$$. This is just sacrificing one person for the sake of their so-called image.
      They are considering allowing athletes receive marge amounts of money for signing memorabilia, like Monziel of Texas AM. So whats the big deal. Let the guy play. He survived on the battlefield, so give him a chance for a decent life. Get over it. Purity my ass!!!

    • kyle

      says the guy who cant spell COLLEGE!!

    • Bill

      Purity of college football- What are you smoking? NCAA is comprised of a pompous bunch of morons trying to preserve 1900 amateurism. Seen the the coaches’ salaries lately. My input is that the coach needs to pay the players out of his salary. Or better yet make them work on a Professor’s salary.

  • skypilot1992


    That’s college…..not collage – a collected arrangement of pictures; do you need English 101?

  • LIAM


  • Sylvester Webb

    “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.” ‘…and there were uniforms’?
    Sure hope so.
    Is the NCAA afraid this trained military athlete might seriously injure or kill on the gridiron? Have fun explaining that one to all the vets who returned to play professional football after WWII in the 40’s & 50’s and their fans.
    This vet ran ‘double duty’ on the sports field and on the field of real world conflict, and survived. That’s a “deserved” exception: he fought for your ideals and reason of fair play; why not return the favor and set a precedence? Or a re-installation of the long edited-out rule? The public, the vets and the alumni vets will not view this decision lightly. Perhaps the NCAA was slightly “knee-jerk” in their decision.
    I, perhaps, think so.

  • Chris

    What a crock of BS…… The NCAA should hang their head in shame…. Meanwhile, as their “Amateur Athletes” get handed money and other things under the table, this Marine gets screwed…. I do love hypocrisy……

  • vramsaran

    Who gives a shit. Morons worship pro athletes as if they cured cancer.

    More Americans care about sports than how we’re governed. Which is more pathetic ?

  • David Thompson

    And how many GENERALS have graduated from MTSU???? 3 that I personally know. Get real NCAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • CindyBPBP

    Jim Thorpe anyone?
    This charge is bogus at best, wonder what the real reason is?

  • James

    As of 19 Aug at the start of their afternoon practice the NCAA has stated that Rhodes is now eligible to play for MTSU.

  • McQ

    That’s good, since whether or not there were uniforms, referees, and a concession stand bare no weight on an athlete being professional. An athlete would be considered professional if he were to receive monetary compensation for the time that he spends dedicated to that sport. As in professional (n) a person engaged in a specified activity, esp. a sport or branch of the performing arts, as a main paid occupation rather than as a pastime. Way to fix your screw up, NCAA.

  • Eddie Unroe

    The NCAA board is a joke.

  • gt

    This is disgraceful! The NCAA need. To get their priorities in order before they decide that Vets who played for base. And command teams are all of the sudden ineligible! Disgusting money grabbing organisation!

  • Eric Usmc

    I hardly never post on these types of things but this really is absurd. Leave that guy alone and let him have a shot at doing what he loves. This man is a great example for what a vet is….fought overseas honorable came home and goes to school and has an entire future ahead of him. NCAA needs to apologize and issue an immediate reinstatement.

  • Marvin

    While the article states that the NCAA has decided he isn’t eligible to play this season because he played in “a military-only recreational league in 2012,” my bet is that the same rule would apply had he played in a non-military league of the same nature — and even though said league was loosely-run and went weeks between games… I’m betting that had he been in a such a civilian league where the teams kept score, wore uniforms, and had referees, that the NCAA would classify such as league under the umbrella of “organized competition,” as well.

    I’m betting this Marine in question has heard the old adages that “there are rules in this world” and that “life ain’t fair.” And this old retired Army soldier says, “suck it up and move on. Stay out of similar civilian leagues and wait to play next year.”

    Read more:
    Under the Radar

    • Cole


  • John Murray

    This is just the NCAA covering their butts. They have this rule for a reason – this situation isn’t it, but instead of granting a waiver they will stick to the letter of their rules because they are afraid that if they grant a waiver then someone will sue them for not granting them a waiver too. It’s a pity that the group of people responsible for college sports is filled with cowards.

  • Trevor Sanchez

    I am a Navy vet of the Vietnam Era. This absolutely pisses me off. I am writing to my congressmen to make sure the NCAA is sanctioned from any and all events involving government moneys or help. I will no longer buy clothing sanctioned by the NCAA or support them in any way.

  • Jim Laubach

    This is a total injustice. Anyone who serves our country should not be restricted from playing football for such a ridiculous reason. The NCAA needs to revise its rulebook, and in the meantime give Rhodes a waiver. The NCAA makes money left and right on its athletes; the least it can do is let this Marine become one of them!

  • ibcomwiz

    Bunch of Sh%t. Will you idiots drop your pencils and try a tour in the middle East. You can’t handle it
    Delta CO. 1st Recon Viet Nam 66 – 67 (2 tours).

  • Tyler

    Actually, its not the NCAA’s fault. The recruiter in all military branches is supposed to tell u that if u play a season for the base team that its equals one year of college athletics. I know cause i asked my recruiter and I stayed off the base teams.
    3BN 9MAR H&S CO Afghanistan 11-13 ( 2 Tours)

  • Michael Hayes

    What can I say? The NCAA is full of lawyers and that explains it all! The SCCA(Sports Car Club of America) was over-run with lawyers and all they did was come up with laws that they could disqualify you or your car for just about anything! The NCAA is just about the same! Even the UCMJ(Universal Code of Military Justice) has a rule that they can get you for if they cannot convict you on anything else! What ever happened to Fair play and Sportsmanship? Have they gone the way of Common Sense and Honor? Sigh!

  • buckshot

    there goes POP WARNER and other little teams. Plus the coaches won’t be able to take them to the local pizza shop to get them pizza for winning the game, that would be getting paid. If they just happen to have a player from the other team, that might be consider a bribe to come play for us next year……..

  • Sports Headlines

    This is disgraceful. It is a wrong step taken by NCAA. Steven Rhodes served his country for five years as a United States and he should not be restricted from playing football for this reason.