Former Marine Prevented by NCAA from Playing for Tennessee School this Fall

Aug 19, 2013

MTSU's Floyd Stadium in Murfreesboro, TN.

A former marine hoping to play college football in Tennessee is being told by the NCAA he’ll have to sit out a year. The collegiate sports governing body says the 24-year-old freshman can’t play this upcoming season because of his participation in a military-only recreational football league in 2012.

Steven Rhodes entered the U.S. Marine Corp after graduating from Antioch High School in Nashville. After serving five years of active duty with the Marines, Rhodes contacted Middle Tennessee State coaches and asked about walking-on to the football ball team as a non-scholarship player.

That’s when the NCAA told Rhodes that his participation in a military-only football league would prevent him from playing immediately. Instead, he was told he would have to sit out the upcoming season.

The rec league Rhodes played in was not for pay, and was similar to the kind of intramural league you might find at a college or university. Still, the NCAA says that because the players were issued uniforms, a score was kept and officials were refereeing the games, it counted as an organized event, precluding Rhodes from playing this season.

Rhodes may still have a shot at putting on the shoulder pads this fall, however. An NCAA spokesperson said in a statement Sunday night that "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."