DesJarlais Urges NCAA To Let Former Marine Play At MTSU

Monday, August 19, 2013

ver the weekend, Rep. DesJarlais learned Steven Rhodes, who honorably served his country as a Marine, is effectively sidelined from playing football for MTSU by the NCAA. The congressman is frustrated by the NCAA’s decision and sent President Emmert a letter Monday afternoon respectfully asking for an exception to be made. 

Dear President Emmert,

I write regarding the National Collegiate Athletic Association's (NCAA) decision to not allow a United States Marine, a hero by any measure, eligibility to play football for Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) in this upcoming season.

The NCAA, founded more than 100 years ago, maintains in its mission statement that its goal "is to be an integral part of higher education and to focus on the development of our student-athletes." I truly believe that the NCAA has an opportunity to uphold that mission in resolving the current issue involving Mr. Steven Rhodes.

As you well know, Rhodes is a young man who felt compelled to serve his country and did so in active duty for five years. He is currently enrolled as a fulltime student at MTSU and has walked on the football team in hopes to participate this fall. Unfortunately, due to an NCAA interpretation of bylaw 14.2.3.2.1, Rhodes has been deemed ineligible. While I think we would both agree that this particular rule and clause therein was never intended to punish or deter our nation's military personnel from having the opportunity to participate in NCAA sanctioned athletic events, that is exactly the scenario that is currently unfolding. 

I respectfully ask that you take another look into Mr. Rhodes' situation and make a determination that military "recreational leagues" are not considered organized competitions that should preclude Mr. Rhodes from having immediate eligibility. After all, Mr. Rhodes has given the sacrifice of service to his country, displaying not only leadership but all of the qualities that the NCAA wants its student-athletes  to emulate and represent. Mr. Rhodes is seeking to be a "walk-on" athlete, paying for his own education and working to enhance his life both academically as well as athletically. Instead of celebrating and encouraging this endeavor, the NCAA is using an obtuse interpretation of its own bylaws on an issue in which I believe this outcome was never intended to address. And while the NCAA does not necessarily owe Mr. Rhodes the opportunity to play collegiate football, his compelling story should be an inspiration and an admirable example for all of its student athletes.

In closing, you may remember having said that the NCAA "was founded on the notion of integrating athletics into the educational experience, and we have to make sure we deliver on that 100-year-old promise. We have to remind ourselves that this is about the young men and women we asked to come to our schools for a great educational experience. We have to collectively deliver on those promises." President Emmert, both you and the NCAA have an opportunity to not only live up to this promise, but to also show student-athletes around the United States and others that Mr. Rhodes is someone we should look up to. 

I greatly appreciate your expedited consideration into this matter and please let me know if I can be of any further assistance.

Sincerely,
Scott DesJarlais, M.D.
Member of Congress


Chattanooga Area Swim League Standings & Results

CHATTANOOGA AREA SWIM LEAGUE STANDINGS BLUE DIVISION Dalton           7-0 Signal Mountain   4-3 Stuart Heights     4-3 Ooltewah            2-5 Fairyland             ... (click for more)

Losses Continue For Lookouts With 3-2 Defeat Sunday

Sunday's game at Jacksonville went down to the wire but the result was the same for Chattanooga, another loss. The tying run was stranded at second base when the final out occurred with the Lookouts on the losing end of a 3-2 game.  Inning-by-inning game  Recap Jacksonville jumped out to an early lead in the first inning against Lookouts starter D.J. Baxendale. ... (click for more)

11 Attorneys Apply In 2nd Round For Replacing Judge Stern

Eleven attorneys have applied in the second round of applications to replace Rebecca Stern as judge of Criminal Court's Division II. The applicants are: Christian J. Coder Chattanooga Tracy Cox Signal Mountain Amanda B. Dunn Chattanooga Ardena Juanita Garth Chattanooga Thomas Clifton Greenholtz Ooltewah Andrea DeFay Hayduk ... (click for more)

Rep. McCormick Says Forrest Made His Wealth As A Slave Trader

Rep. Gerald McCormick, commenting on a bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest that stands in the Tennessee statehouse in an address to the Pachyderm club on Monday, said that Forrest was a violent, vicious man who made his wealth as a slave trader.   The copper bust of Forrest, who was a lieutenant general in the Confederate Army, stands between the Tennessee House and ... (click for more)

Could The Marriage Decision Spark A New Independence Day?

I confess that this year I am having a hard time with the idea of celebrating the 4th of July Independence Day. It is not because I am not thankful to God for what was done on that day, what it represents, and the blessings I’ve experienced that flow from it. On the other hand, I want to think that maybe this year’s celebration will mark a period in our history in which a new movement ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Hay Fields Of July

Oh my goodness, July has just arrived and during my formative years, it was the most hated month of the year. When I was 12 years old, my wonderful grandfather decreed the days of begging for money to go to the picture show and burgers at the Krystal were over, that I was on the payroll for a dollar an hour and, in our family, folks worked for what they spent. Now my grandfather, ... (click for more)