While the NCAA concentrates its efforts on Johnny Manziel's eligibility status over a series of autograph signings, the Mark Emmert-led organization issued another extremely unpopular ruling when it decided to mess with the eligibility of 24-year-old Middle Tennessee State walk-on Steven Rhodes. Rhodes, who spent five years in the Marines was expected to make his NCAA debut later this month, but will have to hold off for another year after the NCAA ruled that he'll have to sit out for a season due to NCAA bylaw 188.8.131.52.1. The bylaw states that student-athletes who don’t enroll in college a year after high school will be charged one year of eligibility for each year they compete in organized competition.
While he was serving his country Rhodes participated in an intramural league which the NCAA counts as organized competition. For his part, Rhodes is upset at the rigidness of the NCAA’s arcane rulebook.
“This is extremely frustrating. I think it’s unfair, highly unfair,” Rhodes told Tennessee’s 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.”
It's just the latest P.R. disaster for the NCAA after a year that's seen them botch investigation after investigation while the legality of their entire organizational structure is coming under more scrutiny than ever.