Steven Rhodes felt a duty to serve his country and had a dream to play football.
But now, to his surprise, one is hindering the other in the peculiar case of the Marine and 24-year-old Middle Tennessee State University freshman football player vs. the NCAA.
“This is extremely frustrating. I think it’s unfair, highly unfair,” Rhodes said. “I just got out of the Marine Corps, and I wanted to play. For (the NCAA) to say, ‘No, you can’t play right now,’ I just don’t understand the logic in that.”
Rhodes, from Antioch, Tenn., finished his five years of active service in the Corps this summer. He then 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, 6-3, 240-pound Marine sergeant. He has played tight end and defensive end 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 for Division I football, per an NCAA rule.