A former U.S. Marine who is trying to fulfill his dream of playing college football is being hindered by an NCAA rule that seems to make little to no sense. Steven Rhodes wants to play football for Middle Tennessee State University but the NCAA is saying he is not eligible at this time because he participated in a military-only recreational football league in 2012. Rhodes, 24, was informed that he would have to redshirt this season and could not play for MTSU.
"This is extremely frustrating. I think it's unfair, highly unfair," Rhodes said. "I just got out of the Marine Corps, and I wanted to play. For (the NCAA) to say, 'No, you can't play right now,' I just don't understand the logic in that."
Rhodes finished his five years of active service in the Marines this summer. He said that the military recreational league that he participated in was highly unorganized and not even competitive.
"Man, it was like intramurals for us. There were guys out there anywhere from 18 to 40-something years old," Rhodes said. "The games were spread out. We once went six weeks between games."
His wife, Adrienne, is finishing her service in the U.S. Navy, USA Today reported.
"I was super excited when he got the chance to play football (at MTSU), but then I was shocked to find out there was a problem with him playing," Adrienne said. "Those games were something they did in their spare time on the same base. They were games against different shops — you know, like the air traffic controllers against the mechanics. It was so disorganized. I couldn't believe that was an issue."
There is still hope for Rhodes.
"The NCAA has provided an initial review of the case and will continue to work with the university. The process is ongoing and a final decision has not yet been made," NCAA spokesperson Stacey Osburn said in a statement that was released on Sunday.