- Matt Fortuna, ESPN Staff Writer
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Freshman defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes is eligible to play for UCLA this fall, as the five-star prospect from the Class of 2013 won an appeal with the National Letter of Intent Steering Committee.
Vanderdoes had signed with Notre Dame on national signing day but asked for a release, something that the Irish refused to grant him, citing the integrity of the NLI program at the time. Before the committee's ruling Monday, that would have meant that Vanderdoes would have had to sit out this fall with the Bruins and have just three years of eligibility remaining over a four-year period.
Now ESPN's No. 1 defensive tackle prospect can take the field immediately with the Bruins.
"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," Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said Tuesday 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."
The news will no doubt anger some Irish fans who felt that Vanderdoes should have been held accountable for the decision he made nearly six months ago. Kelly said as much when asked last month, specifically since he had left Cincinnati for Notre Dame in 2009 with four more seasons on his contract.
"I paid a million dollars in a buyout, too. There's accountability in making those decisions," Kelly said. "You can break the contract. He's broken the contract and he's going to go to another school. But there's a level of accountability there."
As always, NCAA expert John Infante covers all of the bases in breaking down what the Vanderdoes ruling means for the future of the NLI. Surprisingly enough, he thinks this outcome has the least impact on potential precedents that could have been set.