Yesterday we told you the story of Steven Rhodes, a Marine sergeant who was walking on to the Middle Tennessee State football team. Rhodes' eligibility, however, was in doubt due to a convoluted NCAA rule that deemed he had to sit out a year due to his participation in an informal intramural league and the time that passed between his high school graduation and joining the military.
The NCAA, after being battered over the last 30 hours or so in the court of public opinion, has ruled that Rhodes is immediately eligible.
"As a part of its continued review of Steven Rhodes’ eligibility, NCAA staff determined he may play immediately," said Kevin Lennon, vice president of academic and membership affairs, in a statement released late Monday afternoon. "Additionally, he will maintain all four years of his eligibility."
"As a part of the ongoing review of NCAA rules, our members will examine the organized competition rules, especially as it impacts those returning from military service," continued Lennon. "We thank Steven for his service to our country and wish him the best as he begins college."
Great news for Rhodes, the Blue Raiders and for common sense. Hopefully in the future - for the sake of their own PR, if nothing else - the NCAA can avoid letting simple fixes like this become public spectacles before doing the right thing.