Marine vet Steven Rhodes cleared to play after NCAA reverses eligibility ruling

(CBS News) 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.

The NCAA quickly responded, releasing a statement saying as part of an ongoing review of NCAA rules, the organization will examine their organized competition rules, particularly as those rules impact those returning from military service."

Rhodes -- a father of two -- can focus on his life as a student and improving his game for the upcoming season opener as a Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders player.

"I'm still thinking about practice. I'm still thinking about getting better and advancing myself to get ready for that first game," Rhodes said Monday.

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