NCAA relents on Steven Rhodes case; Marine cleared to play

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The NCAA has revised a preliminary ruling on Middle Tennessee State football player Steven Rhodes, a former U.S. Marine who, until this afternoon, wasn't to be eligible this fall for the Blue Raiders.

The NCAA released an official statement clearing Rhodes (6-foot-3, 240 pounds), a tight end and defensive end, to play immediately. The statement also thanked Rhodes for his service to country.

Rhodes reacted to the ruling Monday after MTSU's practice.

"So happy," he said. "So happy to know I'm playing."

The NCAA rule in question, Bylaw 14.2.3.2.1, strips eligibility from players who do not enroll in college within a year of high school graduation and subsequently compete in organized games elsewhere. Rhodes played on a military team during his service time with the Marines, but his description of the competition there hardly came across as organized. Within hours, political support for Rhodes' appeal made a hot topic even hotter.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.

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