DeAnthony Arnett could use a little help. So could his father.
Arnett, a wide receiver who will be a true sophomore in 2012, transferred from Tennessee to Michigan State over the offseason after his father William's health began declining. The Arnetts are originally from Saginaw, Mich.—just under 100 miles away from East Lansing—and DeAnthony wanted to be closer to his father.
Arnett's ability to get to Michigan State was not without its own controversy—more on that in a second—but once there, Arnett requested that the NCAA waive the standard one-year ineligibility period for transfers within the FBS subdivision. Arnett's reasoning was understandable; it's a family emergency, what with his father's life-threatening disease and all. There's some precedent for granting an exemption from the ineligibility, as Iowa running back Jeff Brinson transferred to UCF without penalty when he had his own family emergency to attend to back home in Florida, but the NCAA is notoriously unreliable when it comes to following precedent.
So now... Arnett waits. And waits. And waits:
The NCAA is expected to decide in the next few weeks whether to grant Arnett a hardship waiver, making him eligible to play this coming season, rather than having to sit out, per usual transfer requirements.
"Playing the waiting game," Arnett said this week, referring to the NCAA decision — though the same could be said for William Arnett, who DeAnthony said is on a transplant waiting list.
Hearing the right ruling from the NCAA — or any ruling, for that matter — would be a significant weight removed.
"Right off his chest," [receivers coach Terrence Samuel] said. "And of course we think there's precedent there that says, 'You'll get it.' And then he can feel like, 'OK, I'm in this rotation to play.' I try to tell him, 'Hey, it's going to get done, let's not worry about if it doesn't get done. It's going to get done.' We try to encourage, we try to be as positive as we can, because the kid, I think he knows he can help us. I think this team knows he can help us."
"In the next few weeks" is not good enough. Not for an organization as large, moneyed and powerful as the NCAA. It's not that the NCAA's decision should come sooner (even though it should), it's that the NCAA should know exactly what the timetable for the decision is, down to the very day—and so should Arnett and Michigan State.
The NCAA collects over half a billion dollars in revenue every year. It has over 400 employees. It has zero excuse for not being able to set a specific date for a decision on Arnett's future within hours of Arnett's official request. Of course, the NCAA does need to do fact-finding, and that takes an indeterminate amount of time. Fine. Set deadlines for specific information to come in so the original ruling date can be met. Then, let the athlete circle that date on his calendar and worry about other things until then.
This is not the first time Arnett has been jerked around by institutions that have used his services. As mentioned before, Arnett attended Tennessee last year, having chosen UT over several other schools including Michigan State, and he played right away as a true freshman for the Vols. After learning of his father's declining health, Arnett asked to transfer to Michigan State... and was summarily denied that request by Tennessee, who cited a team rule that players could not transfer to SEC schools or other programs that Tennessee "recruits against."
Tennessee eventually relented after fans nationwide realized that such a rule was horrible, but still, that was the rule, and it sure wasn't in place for the athletes' benefit.
Such is the way of things in the NCAA. Limits on benefits for athletes, but not coaches. Limits on transfer options for athletes, but not coaches. Limits on allowable behavior that is otherwise legal for athletes, but not coaches. It has resulted in an overwhelmingly and unnecessarily negative experience for Arnett and players like him, and there's no reason to find that acceptable.