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 coach Derek Dooley's 2011 recruiting class and was ranked in the ESPNU150.
"I want to play football but I NEED to be here for my Dad and with my family," Arnett said in an email to ESPN.
Arnett said in the email that his father has had two heart attacks, dialysis and a series of surgeries.
In the email, Arnett said he is seeking a release to all schools in Michigan. He said Tennessee will release him to a Mid-American Conference school in Michigan, unless he wants to pay his own way to a Big Ten school.
"Coach Dooley, myself or anybody doesn't know what the future holds for my father," Arnett said in the email. "I feel that I represented the University of Tennessee the best way I can on and off the field and I feel I have earned the right to be released unconditional to all schools in Michigan."
He also pointed out that Tennessee does not have any Michigan teams on its current or future schedules.
A Tennessee spokesman said Arnett is not being denied the opportunity to be released and play FBS-level football. The school has a policy of not releasing players to schools Tennessee plays or recruits against, the spokesman said.
Joe Schad is a college football reporter for ESPN.