A former Notre Dame recruit who backed out on his signed National Letter of Intent with the Irish has won an appeal to play for UCLA immediately this fall.
Had Eddie Vanderdoes not won Tuesday's appeal he would have been forced to sit out the upcoming season and lose a year of eligibility, per NCAA rules.
Vanderdoes is a 5-star defensive lineman who was expected to make an immediate impact for the Irish this season. Instead he'll get that opportunity at UCLA.
Vanderdoes signed his National Letter of Intent--essentially a binding contract--with Notre Dame in February. Somewhere along the way he decided ND was not the place for him. Reports indicate he wanted to be in California and be closer to an ailing grandmother. His hometown of Sacramento is six hours from UCLA. Little is known of the extent of Vanderoes' case beyond that, which just adds to the confusion. Vanderdoes' camp have not spoken openly as to why.
Notre Dame refused to release Vanderdoes from his letter of intent in June. Brian Kelly said at the time it was to preserve the importance of the Letter of Intent. He essentially did not want a precedent being set for others to be able to break their letters of intent as well in the future.
I asked Kelly at the time if there were extraordinary circumstances where he would release a player from his NLI, and Kelly said there were. He did not elaborate but essentially implied he did not feel this was one of those situations.
Kelly reiterated his stance on Wednesday.
"While I disagree with yesterday's decision by the NCAA National Letter of Intent Appeals Committee to reverse its original ruling and grant Eddie Vanderdoes a complete release from his NLI, I understand and respect the entire appeal process," Kelly said in a statement. "However, this result does not change my opinion concerning the importance of protecting the integrity of the NLI program, nor will it change our approach to the process going forward."