DeAnthony Arnett has finally been cleared to play for Michigan State in 2012. The wide receiver played as a true freshman for Tennessee, catching 24 passes for 242 yards and a touchdown in 12 games of action. His father's health took a turn for the worse during the season, however, and Arnett announced that he would transfer closer to home.
Arnett, a native of Saginaw, Mich., overcame a temporary fit of petty vindictiveness by Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley and eventually secured a release to nearby Michigan State, one of the schools that originally recruited him out of high school. He then applied for a waiver to play football immediately, a concession the NCAA often makes for athletes who move closer to home in times of family emergency.
What ensued was a gobsmacking waste of time, as the NCAA shuffled its feet for over two months on what should have been an easy ruling. The NCAA asked for additional medical paperwork on multiple occasions, which seems like a perversion of diligence (were they worried Arnett's father was faking his life-threatening kidney condition?). But at the end of the day, the NCAA got it right:
"The NCAA has granted WR DeAnthony Arnett's request for a residence waiver, so he will be eligible to play in 2012."
It's a testament to both Arnett's will and the support of those around him that he's able to play for the Spartans this season. It's also a shame that the obstacles he faced were so substantial in the first place.
We'll grant all involved this: this wasn't a day-to-day situation. Arnett wasn't going to be playing a game of football for about four more months regardless of what the NCAA ruled. It's better that he's waiting four months instead of 16, of course, but nothing's likely to be different about the 2012 season than if the NCAA had granted this waiver a month earlier.
That said, what utter folly that the NCAA so heavily invested itself in the minutiae of a father's dialysis treatments in order to make a ruling about the son's eligibility. There's due diligence and then there's the kabuki dance of authority. This was the latter. At least the end result was good.