NCAA rule keeps Marine off MTSU football field - WKRN News 2

NCAA rule keeps Marine off MTSU football field

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MTSU freshman Steven Rhodes is appealing an NCAA rule preventing him from playing football this season. MTSU freshman Steven Rhodes is appealing an NCAA rule preventing him from playing football this season.
Courtesy: Daily News Journal Courtesy: Daily News Journal

For five years, Steven Rhodes carried a rifle and put his life on the line for his country in the United States Marines, but that stint in the military may be costing him at least a year of playing college football.

The six-foot-three, 240 pound Rhodes is now a freshman at Middle Tennessee State University, but the NCAA says he can't play college football this year because of a rule about playing on teams outside of the college game.

Rhodes wanted to walk on with the MTSU Blue Raiders to play either tight end or defensive end, but the NCAA declared him ineligible because he played organized football in the military.

"I just couldn't believe they were going to penalize me for playing recreational football in the Marines Corps," Rhodes said.

The level of the competition and legitimacy of it are completely inconsequential in the eyes of the NCAA.

Head football coach Rick Stockstill could only shake his head when thinking about why a former Marine could not immediately play for his team.

"I don't know if I have ever been around a guy who served our country for five years and was not allowed to play," Stockstill said after practice on Sunday night on the MTSU campus in Murfreesboro, adding, "It was almost demanded by his superiors that he play football; one to build team camaraderie and one to be used for stress relief."

MTSU is appealing and hopes to get the Antioch native back on the field.

The NCAA said a review has been filed.

"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 Emily Potter said in a statement sent to News 2.

The chiseled Marine veteran who played football as a wide receiver at Nashville's Antioch High School looks to his military training for dealing with the issue.

"If I can deal with a lot of things I dealt with in the service, like boot camp, I can deal with anything on the field," he said after practice on Sunday night.

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