Tennessee receiver DeAnthony Arnett, who has sought a release to a school closer to his ill father in Saginaw, Mich., has been told by coach Derek Dooley that he will be granted a transfer to Michigan State or Michigan, among others.
As a true freshman this season, Arnett had 24 catches for 242 yards and two touchdowns. He was one of the highest-rated prospects in Dooley's 2011 recruiting class and was ranked in the ESPNU150.
"I'm very comfortable carving out an exception for him when he makes his request," Dooley said. "I'm really supportive of DeAnthony. He has a great future as a person and as a player. He's been very mature through this thing during a tough time and an emotional time. Once we started the one-on-one dialogue, it's been very comforting for both of us. I'm wishing him well there when that time comes."
Tuesday was the first day Arnett could make an official request to transfer as the Tennessee offices had been closed for the holidays.
Arnett tweeted on Tuesday, "I am very appreciative of coach Dooley for making this decision today! We both have the same beliefs that family is first!"
Arnett said in December that his father has had two heart attacks, dialysis and a series of surgeries.
"My decision to leave the University of Tennessee has nothing to do with football, coaches, players or anything related to the school," Arnett said by email Tuesday. "It is and will always remain solely based off of the importance of me keeping my beliefs and family first."
Arnett said last month that he was seeking a release to all schools in Michigan. However, he said, Tennessee would release him only to a Mid-American Conference school in Michigan, unless Arnett wanted to pay his own way to a Big Ten school. The Vols' stance caused an uproar among fans.
But on Tuesday, Arnett said "(Dooley's) decision to release me unconditionally comes as a sign of a compassionate and empathetic coach. I will never be able to express fully my appreciations and gratitude for his decision.
"All good things take time and work. UT has always surpassed the rest and I believe in due time they will be back to the No. 1 program in the SEC. If I did not have issues within my family, you could guarantee that I would continue to be a VOL."
Joe Schad is a college football reporter for ESPN. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.