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NCAA comes around, grants MTSU player immediate eligibility

steven rhodes

As you’ve no doubt heard by now — and if you haven’t, you can change that by reading this outstanding piece from Sunday’s edition of the Daily News-Journal — walk-on Middle Tennessee State defensive end/tight end Steven Rhodes was forced to take a mandatory redshirt for the 2013 season by the NCAA for, well, no good reason at all.

Rhodes, a Marine veteran, was told he must sit out the season because of a NCAA bylaw stating that players who do not enroll in college within a year of graduating high school will be charged one year of eligibility for every academic year they compete in organized competition.

Well, Rhodes just so happened to compete in organized competition after high school:  a military-only recreational football league. “Intramurals” as Rhodes put it.

Naturally, when word got out about Rhodes’ story, it was met with appropriate outrage. MTSU and the NCAA began re-examining the situation, and on Monday evening, the NCAA (correctly) reversed their original decision. Rhodes will now not only be allowed to play in 2013, but he’ll maintain all four years of eligibility. From the NCAA’s statement:

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.

The NCAA’s original decision was absurd, but it surely wasn’t done out of malice. Get a highly bureaucratic entity like the NCAA and rules with unintended consequences happen. Someone(s) somewhere made a decision based on a rule and that was that.

The important thing is that common sense prevailed. Even if Rhodes never sees the field once this year, he’ll have the option. And that’s what he should have.

(Photo credit: MTSU athletics) 

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6 Responses to “NCAA comes around, grants MTSU player immediate eligibility”
  1. mauldawg says: Aug 19, 2013 6:32 PM

    The NCAA couldn’t find it’s behind with both hands. The current NCAA leadership has made a few stupid mistakes in the past few years. However they got this one correct, after careful review. The one they really messed up was PSU. They should have given PSU the kiss of death.

  2. pike573 says: Aug 19, 2013 6:42 PM

    They need to add a Bylaw about common sense. Maybe the NCAA would give it consideration

  3. idolized1 says: Aug 19, 2013 8:52 PM

    I still hate those crooks.

    The fact this much time was taken on this issue speaks volumes about them and the way they do business.

    I’d much rather see college kids getting paid to play and run around with hookers than watch them have to answer to a sick bunch like the NCAA.

  4. wustlumdnj says: Aug 19, 2013 8:55 PM

    its* behind

  5. bertenheim says: Aug 20, 2013 11:17 AM

    Penalizing an honorably discharged serviceman would have been perfectly in line with the NCAA’s p.r. track record.

  6. willyalistentothis says: Aug 20, 2013 1:17 PM

    As a part of its continued review of Johny Manziel’s eligibility, NCAA staff determined he may play immediately. Additionally, he will maintain all three years of his eligibility even though we know he will probably be soon expelled from Texas A&M, declare himself eligible for the NFL draft, then try to reform the perception of his character while working under the tutelage of the likes of Michael Irvin and Ray Lewis. Throughout this process, NCAA staff worked closely with Texas A&M University alumni, the SEC marketing department and our partners at Adidas who make the official Aggies jersey worn by Maziel. As a part of the ongoing review of NCAA rules, our members will examine the autograph for cash policies, especially where a Heisman Trophy winner has an early season showdown slated with the defending national champions in which the NCAA, the SEC, our partner television networks, and the competing Universities are set to make wheel-barrels of cash. We thank Touchdown Johny for his contribution to our high television ratings, and wish him the best as he begins his defense of college sports most prestigious and lucrative individual award.

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