Eddie Vanderdoes The defensive lineman agreed to play for Notre Dame in February but changed his mind for undisclosed reasons.

Vanderdoes wins release from letter of intent

Published: Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013 - 5:00 pm

Eddie Vanderdoes, a five-star college football recruit out of Placer High School, was given his release Tuesday from a signed letter of intent with the University of Notre Dame by an NCAA appeals committee, paving the way for him to suit up for UCLA this fall.

The 6-foot-4, 305-pound defensive lineman made his argument Monday via teleconference to the National Letter of Intent Steering Committee, consisting of five college conference commissioners.

The ruling granting a full release was delivered Tuesday afternoon via phone call by National Letter of Intent program director Susan Peal.

News of the ruling made national headlines after Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly refused to release Vanderdoes from the letter of intent, saying he wanted to uphold the integrity of a contract.

Had Vanderdoes not been granted his release from the commitment, he would not have been able to play Division I football this fall and he would have lost one year of college athletic eligibility.

"We're glad it's over," said Vanderdoes' father, also named Eddie Vanderdoes. "We can all move on. Eddie doesn't have to feel sequestered any more. It's been a terrible thing to go through."

After verbally committing to USC and then de-committing, Vanderdoes signed a letter of intent with Notre Dame in February after a whirlwind recruiting process. But within weeks, Vanderdoes sought his release from that commitment for undisclosed reasons, saying only he needed to be closer to his family.

His grandmother, who helped raise him, has been ill.

"I understand the intent of the letter of intent, and no way I'd ever let Eddie try to get out of it for a simple change of heart," his father said. "There were some extenuating circumstances that are very complicated and personal, stuff that the committee listened to. The NCAA did its due diligence.

"My feeling was if they listened to the facts of our issues and not be on a mission to uphold the (letter of intent), we'd win, and we did."

Vanderdoes, who enrolled at UCLA after it was announced he would not play at Notre Dame, did not return The Bee's calls. His father said Vanderdoes was moving into his dorm in Los Angeles and preparing for the start football camp this weekend in San Bernardino.

Vanderdoes did post on Twitter: "Nice knowing I get to play this fall & glad I had the opportunity to finally speak to the NCAA & explain my 4 reasons (for wanting out of the letter of intent)."

Notre Dame's loss is UCLA's gain.

"We're pleased with the decision made by the committee and are excited to see Eddie on the field with the Bruins this season," UCLA coach Jim Mora said in a released statement.

Kelly also released a statement, disagreeing with the ruling but also adding: "I understand and respect the entire appeals process."

Jason Harper, founder and director of nationally renowned Character Combine based in Sacramento, said the Vanderdoes ruling offers a glimpse into the popularity of college football.

While UCLA fans were jubilant of the decision, flooding chat forums and social media outlets with praise for Vanderdoes, some Notre Dame fans lashed out, cursing the incoming freshman on his Twitter account and other social media avenues.

"Social media has created a cowardice facade that allows fans to become courageous behind a keyboard," Harper said. "They overlook, or don't care, that they're trashing an 18-year-old kid. Social media, like Twitter, has stripped away character for a lot of fans.

"Athletes like Vanderdoes are public figures, yes, but some fans handle it the wrong way. They feel like they have the license to bash him, and that's sad."

Follow on Joe Davidson @SacBee_JoeD and listen to his "Extra Point" every Wednesday on ESPN1320.net

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