A Middle Tennessee freshman who finished five years of active service in the Marines this summer is appealing an NCAA rule preventing him from playing this season because he played in a recreational league in the military.
According to The Daily News Journal newspaper of Murfreesboro, Tenn., the rule essentially says student-athletes who do not enroll in college within a year of graduating from high school will be charged one year of collegiate eligibility for every academic year they participate in organized competition.
By NCAA standards, Steven Rhodes’ play at a Marine base counted as “organized competition” because there were game officials, team uniforms and the score was kept.
But the 6-foot-3, 240-pound Marine sergeant said the recreational league was nothing close to organized.
“Man, it was like intramurals for us,” the 24-year-old said. “There were guys out there anywhere from 18 to 40-something years old. The games were spread out. We once went six weeks between games.”
The NCAA rule first took shape in 1980, when “participation in organized competition during times spent in the armed services, on official church missions or with recognized foreign aid services of the U.S. government” were exempt from limiting eligibility. But through several revisions and branches of the rule, the clause allowing competition during military service was lost and not carried over into the current bylaws.
“All this is strictly because of how the bylaw is worded,” said Daryl Simpson, MTSU’s assistant athletic director/compliance. “In my opinion, there is no intent of anyone to not allow protection to our U.S. service members.”
Middle Tennessee won a partial appeal to the NCAA last week recouping two years of eligibility for Rhodes because his recreational league spanned two academic years. But Rhodes still is appealing to play this season, while practicing at tight end and defensive end.
MTSU spokesman Mark Owens told The Associated Press on Sunday that the school hopes to hear from the NCAA within the next month. The Blue Raiders open the season Aug. 29 against Western Carolina.
Rob Henry will be Purdue’s starting quarterback, coach Darrell Hazell said. In 2010, Henry became the first Purdue quarterback to lead the team in passing and rushing. He was elected a team captain in 2011 but missed the entire year after tearing the ACL in his right knee. Last season, he was third on the depth chart and was 21-of-38 passing for 216 yards and three touchdowns. … Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said he hopes to whittle down his QB pool in the coming days but could wind up playing two or three at the position in the early games. Senior B.J. Denker saw some game action — including one start — last season. But transfers Jesse Scroggins and Nick Isham are in the mix along with true freshman Anu Solomon. … Alabama defensive back Geno Smith has been charged with driving under the influence. The Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Department’s online records show the sophomore for the top-ranked Crimson Tide was arrested Sunday and jailed on $1,000 bond.