Hallelujah... the NCAA is capable of doing the right thing and doing it quickly after all. In just under 12 hours the NCAA ruled Middle Tennessee's Steven Rhodes, a Marine who served for five years, ineligible because of some obscure (but important) rule and then reversed course and corrected the situation.
So, Rhodes, a walk-on is back on in his dream of playing college football. We'd love to think our small #LetRhodesPlay campaign was what put this all over the top. No??? Well, at least the NCAA found a way to right a serious wrong quickly.
The NCAA had this to say about Rhodes' reinstatement:
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.
Middle Tennessee apparently saw this all coming a mile away, but they had to be happy to not see this story drag out too long. MTSU President Dr. Sidney McPhee had this to say about the whole issue.
“We were informed this afternoon that the NCAA has granted full approval to Steven Rhodes’ waiver. This is exciting news for Steven and Middle Tennessee State University. 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.”
Now, the question is does Rhodes' see the field this season? Chances are he won't and he'll end up redshirting, but at the very least his service to this country was honored and honored properly. It also highlights the need for the NCAA to really get a grip on it's handbook and make some common sense changes sooner than later.