24-year-old former Marine Steven Rhodes must redshirt his freshman year at Middle Tennessee State, the NCAA has ruled, because he once played in an intramural football league on a military base. The ruling follows an obscure byline, which states that students forfeit one year of eligibility for every academic year that they participate in "organized sports." The Marines' intramural league—which Rhodes says was totally inorganized and consisted of "guys anywhere from 18 to 40-something years old"—is considered "organized sports," similar in the eyes of the NCAA to something like a competitive AAU division. It doesn't matter that the Marines' league was nothing more than a way to divert attention from being fucking shot at. The NCAA has ruled against powerhouse football program Middle Tennessee State and a goddamn American Marine. Its word is unbending.
Rhodes never saw this coming. After he finished five years of active service this summer, he enrolled at MTSU, requested a shot at walking onto the football team, and impressed the coaches enough to earn it. The 6-foot-3 former sergeant played tight end and defensive end during preseason camp, and was expected to contribute on special teams over the year. But he was soon told that he wouldn't get a chance to play at all. He's naturally upset. As everyone should be.
There is a possibility that MTSU can win an appeal on the basis of legislative oversight. From The Daily News Journal:
The aforementioned 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.
The 1986 revision of the rule further clarified student-athlete’s right to participate in recreational sports during military service.
But through several revisions and branches of the rule — all for reasons unrelated to military exceptions — the clause allowing competition during military service was lost and not carried over into the current bylaws.
But knowing the NCAA (which declined to comment for the original article), I'd be stunned if anything good comes of this whole sad story. The organization is a corrupt cabal of shitdicks. What's one more ruined person to them?