Common sense and the NCAA aren't typically associated, but in the case of a former Marine hoping to play football at Middle Tennessee State, there's hope.
You may have read yesterday about Steven Rhodes, who served five years in the Marines and walked on for the Blue Raiders, with hopes of seeing the field as a tight end or defensive end, only to find out that the NCAA ruled him ineligible due to participation in a noncompetitive league while in the service. The ruling itself is galling, but the end result might not be so bad: he's appealing the decision, and his school's president thinks he'll win, personally taking an interest in his school's 25-year-old freshman.
"I'm very confident common sense will prevail here," (Sidney) McPhee told Yahoo! Sports Monday morning. "I have made a call to the NCAA and asked them to take a serious look at this situation. I was very pleased that there was some sense that this case needed a second look..."
"We want to value folks who are doing the right thing. This is kind of a no-brainer in my perspective. You don't have to be a lawyer, you don't have to understand the NCAA rulebook. This is a case where compassion says, this does not fit with the intent of the rule."
Hopefully, the NCAA sees eye-to-eye with Rhodes on this one and realizes enforcing this rule in this scenario doesn't serve any purpose towards preserving its definition of amateurism. The NCAA is rarely consistent with its punishments as is, so it would be nice for it to be inconsistent in this scenario by allowing somebody who technically violated one of their less-relevant rules to play.
This guy is an ex-soldier who wants to play football while getting an education. It's an incredible story and a win-win scenario for everybody, if the NCAA isn't too hamfisted to realize it.