U.S. Marine Steven Rhodes is immediately eligible to play for MTSU. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
The NCAA saved faced Monday with the announcement that 24-year-old Steven Rhodes, attempting to walk on to play football at Middle Tennessee State University, would be immediately eligible.
On Sunday it was reported Rhodes, who completed five years of service with the Marines, would not be able to play this season because he had competed in a recreational league in 2012 — per Bylaw 18.104.22.168.1, which states "student-athletes that do not enroll in college within a year of their high school graduation will be charged one year of intercollegiate eligibility for every academic year they participate in organized competition."
Here's the NCAA's press release from Kevin Lennon, the vice president of academic and membership affairs:
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.