Tennessee clears the way for DeAnthony Arnett to go home again

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DeAnthony Arnett has been officially #freed.

About a week ago, Arnett, a freshman receiver at Tennessee, made headlines after he claimed coach Derek Dooley refused to grant his release to return home to Saginaw, Mich., where he hoped to transfer to be closer to his sick father and play for either Michigan or Michigan State. According to Arnett, Dooley was only willing to release him to Mid-American Conference schools, which would have allowed Arnett to be closer to his father but at a lower level of play.

During a press conference Tuesday, Dooley changed his tune. Dooley said initially he was caught off guard after receiving a phone call from Arnett's brother to state the case for the release, but after some conversations with Arnett, he came to understand the situation better.

"Over the last two weeks, I guess, I've had some real good one-on-one conversations since all that hit out there on the social media," Dooley said. "I'm very comfortable carving out an exception for him and when he makes his request, which is not until today because our offices have been closed so that's another reason that has been a delay in releasing him where he wants to go close to home to get back to his father."

It's important to note that the reason this story reached social media or the media in general is because Arnett used it as a sounding board. He sent an email to multiple media outlets saying that he felt like he had "…earned the right to be released unconditional to all schools in Michigan."

From there, the story took on a life of its own.

At the time, Tennessee responded by saying it didn't release players to schools that Tennessee either plays or recruits against, but it doesn't play Michigan or Michigan State in the next three seasons and barely recruits the state of Michigan.

Also, several Tennessee fans questioned whether Arnett was really leaving because of his ill father or because he wasn't getting adequate playing time — he finished his freshman season with 24 catches for 242 yards and two touchdowns.

While Arnett may not have been close to his father in the past, MLive.com points out that Arnette's father "… has had two surgeries - one for his heart and one to place a permanent stent in his arm for dialysis - since Arnett returned to Saginaw for winter break." And that's what prompted the desire for a transfer.

Arnett wrote on his Twitter page that he was grateful for Dooley's understanding and thanked the fans for their support.

"I am very appreciative of coach Dooley for making this decision today! We both have the same beliefs that family is first! That it isn't always about football! I wanna say thanks to all the fans for supporting me because you will truly be missed! It's nothing Like playing in front of 100,000 strong every weekend."

Arnett still has to fulfill his one-year commitment to Tennessee before he can petition the NCAA for a hardship waiver that would allow him to play next year at whichever school he chooses.

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Graham Watson is on Facebook and Twitter: Follow her @Yahoo_Graham

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