Marine vet cleared to play after NCAA reverses eligibility ruling

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by CBS News

khou.com

Posted on August 20, 2013 at 12:24 PM

NEW YORK -- Less than 24 hours after news broke about Steven Rhodes' battle with the NCAA, the Middle Tennessee State University freshman and former Marine, was back on the field after the college sports organization reversed their decision to deny him eligibility.

Former Marine and Middle Tennessee State University freshman walk-on Steven Rhodes football player was battling the NCAA after he was denied eligibility.

Rhodes, a 24-year-old walk-on football player and Marine Sargent, said Monday he was "ecstatic" and "so happy...to know I'm playing."

CBS News' Michelle Miller reports that the NCAA originally ruled that Rhodes had to forfeit two years of eligibility and take a mandatory redshirt year for his first season because he participated in a military-only recreational football league at a military base in 2012. On Sunday, Rhodes explained to school officials that the league did not qualify as organized competition.

"It wasn't semi-pro, I didn't get paid for it. It was just an intramural league to build comradery between troops...[for] conditioning," he said Sunday.

Middle Tennessee State launched an appeal, which would typically take several weeks, but Rhodes' story hit social media and users from the around the world immediately blasted the NCAA for blocking a Marine from achieving his college football dreams.

Senator John McCain, a Navy veteran, was among Rhodes' supporters, tweeting "Don't penalize him for serving his country."

"It's amazing how fast this thing got legs and took off in a short period of time," Middle Tennessee State Coach Rick Stockstill said of the social media blitz.

Click here to read more at CBSNews.com.

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