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NCAA says Rhodes can compete immediately

Freshman to maintain all four years of eligibility

August 19, 2013 · @MTAthletics

"As a part of its continued review of Steven Rhodes' eligibility, NCAA staff determined he may play immediately. Additionally, he will maintain all four years of his eligibility. Throughout this process, NCAA staff worked closely with Middle Tennessee State University, and we appreciate the school's partnership. 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. We thank Steven for his service to our country and wish him the best as he begins college."

Kevin Lennon, NCAA vice president of academic and membership affairs

"We were informed this afternoon that the NCAA has granted full approval to Steven Rhodes' waiver. This is exciting news for Steven and Middle Tennessee State University. We express our gratitude to the NCAA for reviewing this situation and granting Steven the ability to play this fall. We are hopeful that the NCAA will look at the bylaws regarding all individuals who serve in the military before becoming a student-athlete."

Dr. Sidney McPhee, Middle Tennessee President

Editor's Note: MTSU will send out a statement from the head coach and student-athlete following football practice.

COMMENTS FROM HEAD COACH RICK STOCKSTILL AND STEVEN RHODES FOLLOWING TODAY'S ANNOUNCEMENT FROM THE NCAA.

FRESHMAN STEVEN RHODES
On learning that he will play this season: Ecstatic. I am so happy to know I am playing.

On when he learned the news: It was in the middle of practice. I was getting ready to go out on the field and they told me. It was a blessing.

On what Coach Stockstill, Dr. McPhee and Chris Massaro said to him: They told me I was granted my eligibility. I had to go give them a hug and thank them. Also, I thanked the Lord. It is nothing but a blessing.

On what he was thinking about over the last few days: I am still thinking about practice. I am still thinking about getting better and advancing myself to get ready for that first game.

On if his mindset changed once hearing the NCAA's decision today: It sure did. It gives you a whole different mindset. You feel like you have new life.

On informing his wife of his eligibility: She was ecstatic. I gave her a call right after practice. It sounded like she was jumping up and down. She found out before I could tell her though.

On what his teammates told him: Congratulations. A lot of super star jokes. I don't want the attention to be on me. I want the attention to be on the team and the focus that we have going forward.

On how he handled the process: I was just keeping my words positive. Not giving into the negativity and how I feel, instead, just walking by faith and not by sight. Praying and believing in the Lord that things will work out. The support I got from the entire nation is amazing. I really appreciate everyone and their support.

HEAD COACH RICK STOCKSTILL
On his thoughts of Steven's eligibility: I am happy for Steven. I found out in the middle of practice. It was good news for Steven and I am happy it worked out in his favor.

On how he informed Steven: We didn't stop practice to tell the whole team. Dr. (Sidney) McPhee and Chris Massaro came over and told me in the middle of practice and I told Steven individually. There were some players around him. He hugged me and all that kind of stuff. It didn't take long to spread through the chain. We'll talk about it in the team meeting. I didn't try to take away from what we were trying to get accomplished at practice.

On Steven making an impact this season: We'll see. He has a long way to go. He hasn't played in six years obviously. His reps had diminished the last three or four days because we were under the impression that he was not going to play. With only nine days left now before we play, we've got to get him caught up to speed. There is no doubt that he'll be able to help us eventually. He's a phenomenal man. He works hard. He has a great attitude out here. There is no doubt that he'll be able to help us this year.

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