If I had a dime for every time I’ve been forced to scratch my head over the asinine decision-making process of the NCAA, I’m pretty sure I’d be able to buy the Camaro of my dreams.
I’m pretty sure some of you have already seen the story about Steven Rhodes; the Marine who walked on at Middle Tennessee State in hopes of playing football for the Blue Raiders in 2013. However, he was told he’d have to redshirt this year because he played a few organized games while he was enlisted; games might I add, that could essentially be labeled “intramural” in nature, according to Rhodes.
Rhodes, an Antioch native, finished his five years of active service in the Marines this summer, when he called MTSU coaches in hopes of landing a spot as a walk-on player for the Blue Raiders. They happily granted the request of the athletic 6-foot-3, 240-pound Marine sergeant. He has played both tight end and defensive end thus far in preseason camp.
But not long after arriving on campus, Rhodes was told that his participation in a military-only recreational football league in 2012 would hinder his immediate eligibility to play Division I college football, per an NCAA rule.
Despite his age, military service and complete lack of college football experience, Rhodes must take a mandatory redshirt and not play a single game
Matriculation After 20th Birthday—Tennis. In tennis, a student who is eligible under
Bylaw 22.214.171.124, but who participates in organized tennis events after his or her 20th birthday and before full-time enrollment at the certifying institution shall be subject to the following: (Adopted: 4/29/04 effective 8/1/04 for competition occurring after 8/1/04, Revised: 6/10/04)
- (a) The student will be charged with one season of intercollegiate tennis competition for each calendar year after his or her 20th birthday and prior to full-time enrollment at the certifying institution during which the student-athlete has participated in organized tennis events per Bylaw 126.96.36.199.3.
[Note: This includes participation in intercollegiate tennis while enrolled full-time in another two-year or four-year institution; however, this provision replaces the season of competition counted in
Bylaw 14.2 (only one season is used in any one year).] 38
- (b) Upon matriculation at the certifying institution, the student-athlete must fulfill an academic year in residence before being eligible to represent the institution in intercollegiate tennis, unless the student transfers to the certifying institution with a minimum of 24 semester hours (or equivalent) of transferable degree credit. (Note: All other NCAA transfer and academic eligibility requirements apply.)
So, basically the rule says (by the way, it’s applicable to more than just tennis) because Rhodes played in a somewhat “organized” (and I use that term loosely as this team he was a part of sounds like something you could throw together for a Thanksgiving Day Turkey Bowl) league during the time he was enlisted, he cannot participate in collegiate football games at MTSU until he’s paid the NCAA a redshirt penance.
Listen, I’m no lawyer, but this just seems like a bunch of bologna to me. I mean, this guy isn’t likely to make the Blue Raiders any better, and it sounds to me like the head coach truly just wants to say ‘thank you via a spot on this year’s team. Where’s the harm in that?!
You can bet this story will have a happy ending because I just can’t find any cause to enforce this rule based solely on the circumstances at hand; then again, it is the NCAA.