It’s been a while since I’ve made any sort of active contribution to the blog, which was attributable to the fact that I was studying for the Colorado Bar Exam. Well, I sat for that at the end of last month, and now that I have a little bit of free time, I can get back to writing! So what follows is a little bit of a legal op-ed about various issues that come up throughout the year …
I suppose, collectively, lots of fans of any college sport have a tendency to wonder what’s up with the NCAA … I find myself wondering that on almost a daily basis. Yesterday was no different when the NCAA ruled that a young man attempting to walk on to the Middle Tennessee State football team would lose two years of eligibility, and then also be forced to redshirt. Then, on appeal the NCAA reinstated his two years, but held that he still needed to redshirt. Finally, yesterday the NCAA stated that he was eligible immediately.
Here’s a little bit of background on what happened. Steven Rhodes served five years in the Marines. Last year, he played in a recreational league with a bunch of other Marines, ages ranging from 18 to 40. They did have uniforms, officials, and score was kept, but sometimes the games were 6 weeks apart … Anyways, after he finished his five years of service, he decided to go to college. He walked on this past spring and participated in spring camp. However, before fall camp started, Rhodes received a notice from the NCAA clearinghouse stating that he had lost two years of eligibility.
The rule the NCAA initially stated that they were taking two years away from Rhodes because he played football in the marines for two academic years. The law further states that this rule only applies to participants who don’t enroll in college within a year of their high school graduation. The rule hinges on whether the activity is an organized competition or not.
There are all kinds of question that arise from the NCAA rule. I guess I sorta understand the policy behind the rule. The NCAA wants to make sure that everyone has the same number of years to play sports, whether it’s with a university or not. But cracking down on poor Steven Rhodes shows the NCAA is reaching to new lows.
But beyond those reasons, nothing else really makes sense. Why was this kid even bugged in the first place? Seriously! As if those guys at the compliance department don’t have anything better to do …
I have heard numerous arguments against enforcement of this rule in this particular case. The kid served our country; the marine league he played in was not the kind of organized activity that should preclude a person from playing at the collegiate level; if Rhodes was in a skiing competition, or even an organized chess tournament, the NCAA wouldn’t have even farted in his general direction. Those all sound good to me. Why was Rhodes in this position in the first place? There was no legitimate reason for the NCAA to rear its ugly head here. I see no rhyme or reason to it. Furthermore, I feel really bad for Steven and his family.
I know there are rules, but when you get to the bottom of it all, you have to ask yourself: what’s the rule supposed to do? In this case, I have no clue. But hey, I figured out a good rule of thumb! If your rule doesn’t achieve the purpose for which it was created, get rid of it.