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


Covenant Earns USA South Sportsmanship Trophy

 The USA South Athletic Conference presented its 2014 Sportsmanship Trophy to Covenant College at the Scots' men's soccer game versus Ferrum College on Saturday, September 20. USA South Associate Commissioner Mike Christie was on-hand to present the award to Covenant President Dr. J. Derek Halverson, Director of Athletics Kyle Taylor and student-athletes from various Covenant ... (click for more)

PHOTOS: Brainerd Wins In OT Over East Ridge

Man Charged With Killing 3-Year-Old Takes Own Life In County Jail

Justin Dale Bradley died in the Hamilton County jail Saturday morning. Notification was received from the Hamilton County 911 Center at   12:50 a.m. ,   regarding an inmate found unresponsive.   Jail personnel found the male inmate unresponsive in his cell and initiated C.P.R. while notifying Hamilton County Emergency Medical Services. ... (click for more)

Democratic Chairman Roy Herron Announces He Will Not Run For 2nd Term

Democratic Party Chairman Roy Herron announced Saturday at a meeting of the Tennessee Democratic Party State Executive Committee that he would not be seeking a second term as party chairman. “I have been blessed to serve as chairman these past two years, and I owe an enormous debt of gratitude to all of the executive committee members, party officials, staff members, and friends ... (click for more)

You’re Right With Lamar

One of Tennessee’s favorite sons, Davy Crockett, coined an oft-used phrase:  “Be always sure you’re right, then go ahead.” Being sure is quite important, but may be difficult in this election cycle. The Democratic nominee campaigning against Lamar Alexander is a man whose radio ads call for “change,” “fair” taxes and more jobs.  Sounds good, huh?   ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Saturday Funnies

Okay … here we go. A number of readers have complained that I haven’t shared any jokes that my friends send to my email address so on a weekend when our Volunteers and Mocs are idle, let’s laugh a little:   I was sitting in a bar one afternoon with an old friend knocking back a few beers when he said, "You know, if we're not careful we'll end up like those two old drunks ... (click for more)