NCAA reverses ruling, allows former Marine to play football at M - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

NCAA reverses ruling, allows former Marine to play football at MTSU

Posted: Updated:
he NCAA says it's working with Middle Tennessee and hasn't made a final decision on the eligibility of Rhodes, a freshman attempting to play after serving five years in the Marines. (AP Photo/Daily News Journal, Helen Comer) he NCAA says it's working with Middle Tennessee and hasn't made a final decision on the eligibility of Rhodes, a freshman attempting to play after serving five years in the Marines. (AP Photo/Daily News Journal, Helen Comer)

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.

"It's nothing but a blessing," Rhodes said after Monday's practice.

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 tight end and defensive end.

"We thank Steven for his service to our country and wish him the best as he begins college," NCAA vice president of academic and membership affairs Kevin Lennon said.

Before the ruling came down, Middle Tennessee President Sidney McPhee said it was a "no brainer" to allow Rhodes to play. After learning of the decision, McPhee thanked the NCAA.

"This is exciting news for Steven and Middle Tennessee State University," 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."

Middle Tennessee athletic director Chris Massaro said he and McPhee went to the practice field Monday afternoon to inform Rhodes of the NCAA's decision.

"It was really a neat moment to be there for that," Massaro said. "He was extremely happy, as you'd imagine. It's always fun to be there when dreams start to come true."

Rhodes' eligibility was in question because he played in a recreational league during his military service. An NCAA rule states that student-athletes who don't enroll in college within a year of graduating high school will be charged one year of eligibility for every academic year they participate in organized competition.

By NCAA standards, Rhodes' play at the Marine base counted as "organized competition" because there were game officials, team uniforms and the score was kept.

But the 6-foot-3, 240-pound Marine sergeant said the recreational league was nothing close to organized.

"Man, it was like intramurals for us," the 24-year-old told The (Murfreesboro) Daily News Journal, which first reported the story. "There were guys out there anywhere from 18 to 40-something years old. The games were spread out. We once went six weeks between games."

The rule first took shape in 1980, when "participation in organized competition during times spent in the armed services, on official church missions or with recognized foreign aid services of the U.S. government" was exempt from limiting eligibility.

But through several revisions and branches of the rule, the clause allowing competition during military service was lost and not carried over into the current bylaws.

Massaro said earlier Monday before the NCAA's latest ruling that he was cautiously optimistic things would go in Rhodes' favor, particularly as the case began to draw national attention. U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, a Republican whose district includes Murfreesboro, had sent a letter to NCAA President Mark Emmert in support of Rhodes.

"This is such a no-brainer, frankly," McPhee said Monday before the NCAA ruled Rhodes could play. "Even though the rule is very clear on this, I think there is a sense that a wrong needs to be made right in this particular case."

Massaro said McPhee and Emmert communicated with each other a couple of times Monday and that those conversations "appeared to go very well."

"It was very apparent that Dr. Emmert's positon was, 'Let's see if we can find a way to make this work,' " Massaro said.

Now that he's been declared eligible, Rhodes will try to work his way up the depth chart. He faces quite a challenge after such a long layoff.

Middle Tennessee opens its season Aug. 29 against Western Carolina.

"He has a long way to go," Middle Tennessee coach Rick Stockstill said. "He hasn't played in six years obviously. His reps had diminished the last three or four days because we were under the impression that he was not going to play. With only nine days left now before we play, we've got to get him caught up to speed.

"There is no doubt that he'll be able to help us eventually. He's a phenomenal man. He works hard. He has a great attitude out there."

Rhodes has even more determination now that the NCAA has given him the go-ahead to continue working toward this goal.

"It gives you a whole different mindset," Rhodes said. "You feel like you have new life."

___

AP Sports Writer Mike Marot in Indianapolis contributed to this report.

  • Central Alabama NewsMore>>

  • Wounded Warrior Project releases large veterans survey

    Wounded Warrior Project releases large veterans survey

    Monday, September 15 2014 9:12 PM EDT2014-09-16 01:12:12 GMT
    Wounded Warrior Project has released the results of their 2014 Annual Alumni Survey. It is based on the responses of more than 21,000 wounded veterans, it includes the largest sample size of service members injured since 9/11. The results indicate the recent passage of sweeping legislation to improve care at the Department of Veterans Affairs comes at a time when more and more injured veterans are seeking care.The two most common problems in accessing healthcare were difficulty in scheduling ...More >>
    Wounded Warrior Project has released the results of their 2014 Annual Alumni Survey. It is based on the responses of more than 21,000 wounded veterans, it includes the largest sample size of service members injured since 9/11. The results indicate the recent passage of sweeping legislation to improve care at the Department of Veterans Affairs comes at a time when more and more injured veterans are seeking care.The two most common problems in accessing healthcare were difficulty in scheduling ...More >>
  • Five teens with masks & fake guns stopped in Hueytown

    Five teens with masks & fake guns stopped in Hueytown

    Monday, September 15 2014 5:50 PM EDT2014-09-15 21:50:27 GMT
    Halloween masks, even the scary ones, are meant to be fun. Pair a mask with a gun and you've got a formula for disaster. That's why a tipster called police over five teenagers in Hueytown. Turns out the "guns" weren't real. But the police chief is convinced this tipster stopped a crime and perhaps saved lives. Hueytown police chief Chuck Hagler believes these five teenagers will not be charged with any crime. They should be thanking police. Hagler is convinced they were headed for trouble....More >>
    Halloween masks, even the scary ones, are meant to be fun. Pair a mask with a gun and you've got a formula for disaster. That's why a tipster called police over five teenagers in Hueytown. Turns out the "guns" weren't real. But the police chief is convinced this tipster stopped a crime and perhaps saved lives. Hueytown police chief Chuck Hagler believes these five teenagers will not be charged with any crime. They should be thanking police. Hagler is convinced they were headed for trouble....More >>
  • Griffith says he will give up salary like Bentley if elected

    Griffith says he will give up salary like Bentley if elected

    Monday, September 15 2014 3:28 PM EDT2014-09-15 19:28:31 GMT
    Democrat Parker Griffith says he will give up his salary if elected governor and redirect the money to public education.More >>
    Democrat Parker Griffith says he will give up his salary if elected governor and redirect the money to public education.More >>
  • Birmingham Area NewsMore>>

  • Five teens with masks & fake guns stopped in Hueytown

    Five teens with masks & fake guns stopped in Hueytown

    Monday, September 15 2014 5:50 PM EDT2014-09-15 21:50:27 GMT
    Halloween masks, even the scary ones, are meant to be fun. Pair a mask with a gun and you've got a formula for disaster. That's why a tipster called police over five teenagers in Hueytown. Turns out the "guns" weren't real. But the police chief is convinced this tipster stopped a crime and perhaps saved lives. Hueytown police chief Chuck Hagler believes these five teenagers will not be charged with any crime. They should be thanking police. Hagler is convinced they were headed for trouble....More >>
    Halloween masks, even the scary ones, are meant to be fun. Pair a mask with a gun and you've got a formula for disaster. That's why a tipster called police over five teenagers in Hueytown. Turns out the "guns" weren't real. But the police chief is convinced this tipster stopped a crime and perhaps saved lives. Hueytown police chief Chuck Hagler believes these five teenagers will not be charged with any crime. They should be thanking police. Hagler is convinced they were headed for trouble....More >>
  • EPA training sessions in Birmingham to combat pollution

    EPA training sessions in Birmingham to combat pollution

    Monday, September 15 2014 2:11 PM EDT2014-09-15 18:11:14 GMT
    The Environmental Protection Agency will host a Clean Air Act Rulemaking and Permitting training session September 16-17, 2014.More >>
    The Environmental Protection Agency will host a Clean Air Act Rulemaking and Permitting training session September 16-17, 2014.More >>
  • 16th Street Baptist Church remembers bombing anniversary

    16th Street Baptist Church remembers bombing anniversary

    Monday, September 15 2014 1:50 PM EDT2014-09-15 17:50:20 GMT
    September 15th marks a tragic event in our city and nation's history that galvanized the civil rights movement.16th Street Baptist Church commemorated the 51st anniversary of the bombing that killed four little girls.A ceremony started at the same time Sunday school began on that horrible day.Bells rang at 10:22.. the estimated time the blast killed Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Cynthia Wesley and Carole Robertson.Pastor Arthur Price said their death empowered everyone to strive for a bet...More >>
    September 15th marks a tragic event in our city and nation's history that galvanized the civil rights movement.16th Street Baptist Church commemorated the 51st anniversary of the bombing that killed four little girls.A ceremony started at the same time Sunday school began on that horrible day.Bells rang at 10:22.. the estimated time the blast killed Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Cynthia Wesley and Carole Robertson.Pastor Arthur Price said their death empowered everyone to strive for a bet...More >>
Most Popular
Stories
Videos
loading...
  • Latest StoriesMore>>

  • Northern California wildfire burns 100 homes

    Northern California wildfire burns 100 homes

    Monday, September 15 2014 11:01 PM EDT2014-09-16 03:01:06 GMT
    Two raging wildfires in California forced hundreds of people to evacuate their homes, including one near a lakeside resort town that burned nearly two dozen structures.More >>
    A fire driven by fierce winds raced through a small town near the Oregon border on Monday, burning a church to the ground, damaging or destroying 100 homes and prompting evacuation orders for at least 1,500 people,...More >>
  • Anniston appoints new school board member; discusses school consolidation

    Anniston appoints new school board member; discusses school consolidation

    Monday, September 15 2014 9:13 PM EDT2014-09-16 01:13:45 GMT
    The Anniston City Council named a former mayor of Weaver as the city's newest board of education member. Ed Kimbrough will replace Donna Ross, who submitted a letter of resignation two weeks ago as she and her family move out of state. Kimbrough was one of three candidates interviewed by the council for the position, along with former Macon County board of education member Ernest Washington, and Andrew Hatley, who previously served on both the Anniston City Council and Board of Education.More >>
    The Anniston City Council named a former mayor of Weaver as the city's newest board of education member. Ed Kimbrough will replace Donna Ross, who submitted a letter of resignation two weeks ago as she and her family move out of state. Kimbrough was one of three candidates interviewed by the council for the position, along with former Macon County board of education member Ernest Washington, and Andrew Hatley, who previously served on both the Anniston City Council and Board of Education.More >>
  • Wounded Warrior Project releases large veterans survey

    Wounded Warrior Project releases large veterans survey

    Monday, September 15 2014 9:12 PM EDT2014-09-16 01:12:12 GMT
    Wounded Warrior Project has released the results of their 2014 Annual Alumni Survey. It is based on the responses of more than 21,000 wounded veterans, it includes the largest sample size of service members injured since 9/11. The results indicate the recent passage of sweeping legislation to improve care at the Department of Veterans Affairs comes at a time when more and more injured veterans are seeking care.The two most common problems in accessing healthcare were difficulty in scheduling ...More >>
    Wounded Warrior Project has released the results of their 2014 Annual Alumni Survey. It is based on the responses of more than 21,000 wounded veterans, it includes the largest sample size of service members injured since 9/11. The results indicate the recent passage of sweeping legislation to improve care at the Department of Veterans Affairs comes at a time when more and more injured veterans are seeking care.The two most common problems in accessing healthcare were difficulty in scheduling ...More >>
  • Corporal punishment: How far is too far?

    Corporal punishment: How far is too far?

    Monday, September 15 2014 7:18 PM EDT2014-09-15 23:18:11 GMT
    Corporal punishment is legal in the state of Alabama. But, too many parents go too far. Child abuse investigators in Jefferson County answer several calls each week reporting what is believed to be child abuse.More >>
    Corporal punishment is legal in the state of Alabama. But, too many parents go too far. Child abuse investigators in Jefferson County answer several calls each week reporting what is believed to be child abuse.
    More >>
  • Five teens with masks & fake guns stopped in Hueytown

    Five teens with masks & fake guns stopped in Hueytown

    Monday, September 15 2014 5:50 PM EDT2014-09-15 21:50:27 GMT
    Halloween masks, even the scary ones, are meant to be fun. Pair a mask with a gun and you've got a formula for disaster. That's why a tipster called police over five teenagers in Hueytown. Turns out the "guns" weren't real. But the police chief is convinced this tipster stopped a crime and perhaps saved lives. Hueytown police chief Chuck Hagler believes these five teenagers will not be charged with any crime. They should be thanking police. Hagler is convinced they were headed for trouble....More >>
    Halloween masks, even the scary ones, are meant to be fun. Pair a mask with a gun and you've got a formula for disaster. That's why a tipster called police over five teenagers in Hueytown. Turns out the "guns" weren't real. But the police chief is convinced this tipster stopped a crime and perhaps saved lives. Hueytown police chief Chuck Hagler believes these five teenagers will not be charged with any crime. They should be thanking police. Hagler is convinced they were headed for trouble....More >>
  • Griffith says he will give up salary like Bentley if elected

    Griffith says he will give up salary like Bentley if elected

    Monday, September 15 2014 3:28 PM EDT2014-09-15 19:28:31 GMT
    Democrat Parker Griffith says he will give up his salary if elected governor and redirect the money to public education.More >>
    Democrat Parker Griffith says he will give up his salary if elected governor and redirect the money to public education.More >>
  • Miss America: More to worry about than red cup

    Miss America: More to worry about than red cup

    Monday, September 15 2014 2:41 PM EDT2014-09-15 18:41:07 GMT
    The new Miss America followed in the footsteps of her predecessors and posed for pictures in the Atlantic City surf.More >>
    The new Miss America says there are more important things for people to worry about than her little red cup.More >>
  • Bentley creates Small Business Commission

    Bentley creates Small Business Commission

    Monday, September 15 2014 2:28 PM EDT2014-09-15 18:28:05 GMT
    Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley is creating a commission to recommend ways the state can help small businesses get started and expand.More >>
    Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley is creating a commission to recommend ways the state can help small businesses get started and expand.More >>