The 6'3", 240-pound Rhodes, who served five years in the Marine Corps as an air traffic controller, played in a recreational football league while in the service. Team sports are typical at just about every military base.
SBNation has more:
It was loosely organized and generally just for fun, but since the teams had uniforms and referees, the association characterized it as organized competition, and a by-law forces student athletes who don't play college sports immediately after high school to sit out a year for every year [of] organized competition they play before arriving at school. So they told him that he has to sit out the upcoming season.
After leaving the Marines, the 24-year-old Rhodes reached out to coaches at Middle Tennessee State University for a possible walk-on position as a tight end and defensive end. He got his chance, but now he has to wear a redshirt and sit on the bench.
“This is extremely frustrating. I think it’s unfair, highly unfair,” Rhodes told Adam Sparks of The Daily News Journal. “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.”
From The Journal:
The official rule keeping Rhodes from playing a game this season is NCAA bylaw 220.127.116.11.1. Steeped in layers of legal jargon, the rule essentially says that student-athletes that do not enroll in college within a year of their high school graduation will be charged one year of intercollegiate eligibility for every academic year they participate in organized competition.
By NCAA standards, Rhodes’ recreational league games at the Marine base counted as “organized competition” because there were game officials, team uniforms and the score was kept.
The Journal notes two other points of interest: If Rhodes had gone to college for at least one semester after high school, he'd be eligible. Second, he had no idea of such a rule when he joined the Marines.
This comes on the heels of another NCAA regulation story on "Johnny Football" — who also could be deemed ineligible for allegedly receiving payment for his autograph.
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