Tennessee wide receiver DeAnthony Arnett has the Vols’ blessing to transfer to another Division I program, but it will come with a few limitations.
In the school’s first official comments since news broke Wednesday that the freshman was seeking a release from his scholarship to be closer to his ailing father in Saginaw, Mich., UT spokesman Jimmy Stanton laid out why Arnett would not be able to transfer to a school such as Michigan, Michigan State or any other big-name program.
“We’re not denying him a release to be near his family, get a good education and play Division I football at the same time, but we do have a policy of not releasing players to schools we either play or recruit against,” Stanton said Thursday. “Where he’s from, there are several good D-I schools nearby that would be good options to play football, get a good education and keep him near his family.”
In an e-mail sent to multiple media outlets, including the News Sentinel, Arnett detailed his father’s battle with a lung disease, his family’s financial troubles and his desire to land with either the Wolverines or Spartans. Arnett added that coach Derek Dooley indicated UT would allow him to transfer to schools in the Mid-American Conference.
“... If I wanted to attend The University of Michigan and Michigan State University then I would have to pay for school instead of be on the Scholorship (sic),” Arnett wrote. “I dont know whats next my family cant afford to pay for school and my father health reason isnt good enough excuse for me to attend a BCS school close to home. (According to coach dooley).
“Therefore as a student athlete I feel coach dooley is trying to hinder my success by not allowing me to compete at a bcs level! And he’s neglecting the fact that my father is severely ill.”
Arnett wrote that his mother, Virginia, was only able to attend one of his games this past season. Nearby Division I schools at Arnett’s disposal that would not be eliminated by UT’s parameters include Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan, Central Michigan, Toledo and Bowling Green.
“I never imagined being unable to have my dad at any games or me being able to see him as he endures his battle with health,” Arnett wrote. “Yes I want to play football but I NEED to be here for my dad and with my family.”
The paperwork on Arnett’s release has not been processed yet because the UT compliance department is closed through the holiday season. Stanton said Arnett will be granted his release next week if he still desires it.
Considered one of the Vols’ top-rated signees for the class of 2011, Arnett started once and saw playing time in all 12 games this past season. His 24 receptions tied for the second-most by a freshman in program history. He finished with 242 receiving yards, a total that ranked fifth on the team, and two touchdowns.
Before committing to UT in November 2010, Arnett nearly committed to Michigan State. In a January interview with the News Sentinel, Arnett said he was ready to commit to the Spartans in September 2010, but was unable to when coach Mark Dantonio suffered a heart attack while he and his brothers sat in his office. Arnett, who was recruited heavily by former Vol assistant Charlie Baggett, went on to reevaluate his options and ultimately committed to the Vols two months later.
Arnett also used one of his five official visits at Michigan, but that came before Brady Hoke replaced Rich Rodriguez as the Wolverines’ coach.
If Arnett qualifies for an NCAA hardship waiver, he would be able to play immediately at wherever he landed. Hang-ups with his National Letter of Intent, though, could put that in jeopardy.
Because Arnett signed a National Letter of Intent in February, he is subject to eligibility ramifications if he does not complete a full year at UT. It could, perhaps, be in his best interest to go through spring semester and spring football at UT before signing elsewhere.
“The basic penalty may preclude you from representing the second college until you have completed two academic years in residence at the latter institution and you may lose two seasons of competition in all sports,” according to a National Letter of Intent cheat sheet from the NCAA’s official website.
On his Twitter account Thursday, Arnett posted a picture of his father, who opened his shirt to display a package of tubes running through his chest.
“Everybody please pray for me and my family as we go through this tough situation! It’s very stressful for me!!” Arnett wrote. “Just wanted to post that picture so everyone knows that it’s not BS! If he didn’t have that on his chest he wouldn’t be here.”
Andrew Gribble may be reached at 865-342-6327. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Andrew_Gribble and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/gribble