Former Marine Steven Rhodes wanted to serve his country and play college football. But an odd set of circumstances might keep that from happening. A report by SI.com details the rule that makes Rhodes ineligible. Bylaw 18.104.22.168.1 states that an athlete must sit for one season if they do not play college sports right after high school.
Rhodes was ruled ineligible due to his participation in a recreational football league while he was in the Marines. When asked about the league, Rhodes describes it as “intramurals,” and spoke about how disorganized the league was. “We once went six weeks between games” he told Adam Sparks of The Daily News Journal.
Rhodes graduated high school in 2007, worked in a Nissan plant for a year after high school, and then joined the Marines. After serving his five years in the Marines, Rhodes attempted to walk on at Middle Tennessee State University. By rule, Rhodes must sit out two seasons because the rec league he played in spanned two academic years.
Since the league used referees, gave out uniforms and kept score, the NCAA deemed it an “organized competition.” Daryl Simpson is the MTSU assistant athletic director and compliance officer. He feels the problem is the way the NCAA rule is worded. As the law was changed for various exceptions, Simpson argued that the original intent was forgotten.
“It’s nobody’s fault. There were unintended consequences of forgetting that clause over time.” Simpson told the Daily News Journal. “We’re just saying (to the NCAA) ‘hey, you forgot this clause’.” MTSU has gotten the two years of eligibility back. The next step is to get him on the team now.