Former Marine Steven Rhodes will not have to sit out the 2013 season with the NCAA announcing Monday that it fully cleared him to play after reviewing his case. Rhodes will keep all four years of his eligibility.
Here is the statement released by Kevin Lennon, the NCAA's 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.
The snag occurred for Rhodes because he participated in a recreational football league during his time in the Marines. The NCAA considered that an "organized activity," which brought the delayed enrollment rule into play. The rule stipulates that any athlete who doesn't enroll in college right after high school loses a year of eligibility for every year in which he or she participates in what the NCAA deems an organized activity.
Members of the armed forces used to be completely exempt from that bylaw, but an alteration to it in 2011 changed the wording such that the military exception applied only to skiing and ice hockey. Judging by Lennon's statement, the NCAA may revisit the rule, which would probably be a good idea since this sort of incident does absolutely nothing positive for public perception of the NCAA.