ASU swim and dive's Andrew Porter and Reid Elliot granted an extra year of eligibility

They will both compete for ASU swim and dive in the upcoming 2017-18 season

It is very rare to see graduate students compete in the NCAA.

However, Andrew Porter and Reid Elliot, both graduates of ASU, were granted an extra year of eligibility after successfully appealing to the NCAA. They will both compete for the ASU swim and dive team in the upcoming 2017-18 season as graduate school students.  

Neither Porter nor Elliot started their collegiate careers at ASU.

Porter swam at the University of Arizona for three seasons between 2012 and 2015. Before transferring to ASU, he experienced an injury, which was cited in his appeal. 

“I broke my wrist the beginning of junior year as we were starting training, and the trainers there didn’t catch the break," Porter said. "I had shaved off some of the ligaments on my ulna and they told me it was sprained."

Porter discussed the difficulties of the injury at the time. 

“Doing push ups, pull ups, weightlifting – the whole deal – it was one of the most painful times of my life, and all of that kind of led to a bit of a breakdown," Porter said. "I didn’t know if I was swimming at this point. I was recovering – was giving everything I could – but it was frustrating being an athlete that loses their identity.”

After what Porter described as a series of cultural changes, he decided to transfer to ASU, where he sat out for the 2015-16 season as a redshirt due to NCAA transfer rules. The NCAA was supposed to allow Porter to appeal for an extra year of eligibility during his redshirt year, but because he transferred within the Pac-12, it did not. 

Elliot also took time off from swimming, which was accounted for in his appeal.

During the 2012-13 season, Elliot swam his freshman year at Michigan University but left after not meshing well with the team. Elliot then attended UA, where he took classes but did not swim. 

After deciding he wanted to swim again, he transferred to ASU.

“Honestly I was really on the last leg of wanting to swim,” Elliot said. “I didn’t have enough credits to swim my first year, so it was just a big process in getting here ... the coaches were great and they worked with me to make sure I was able to at least come and be in classes the first year I was here.”

The prolonged process required help from ASU's eligibility office. Both swimmers went to the offices of the Executive Director and Chief Athletics Compliance Officer Steve Webb and Director of Athletics Compliance Brad Chandler.

Webb's job is to make sure all student-athletes know and follow NCAA rules. Chandler's job is to oversee all waivers and protect the university from NCAA violations. 

“Reid's (process) was months (long). There was a lot of things that had to be done – we're talking about adding a year (on to) their college careers," Webb said. 

Webb was unsure whether Porter would even regain eligibility. 

"I actually had a meeting with Andrew (Porter) one day shortly, probably before we filed a waiver saying, 'We're not going to do this because we have no opportunity,'” Webb said. “I talked to a friend (with) the NCAA and asked him what he thought about it and he said, 'Well you have a shot'.”

Chandler did the heavy lifting on both appeals, which took roughly four to five months each. 

“(The appeals process) starts off with an initial conversation ... and then it's coming back to me and I'm researching the rules seeing if there's any precedent,” Chandler said. “Then we go back and research more information, and then I talk to some other colleagues and talk to NCAA staff members, so it's an ongoing process of getting information, asking questions and getting documentation.”

After months of communication with the NCAA, both swimmers received extended eligibility. Porter received the news just 20 days before the season started. 

Porter and Elliot both have aspirations to make the most of this extra year.

Elliot is coming off a season where he competed in the 400 medley relay, 100 back, 50 freestyle and 100 fly at the 2017 Pac-12 championships.

“We placed 14th last year – I want to do better than that,” Elliot said. “I always just want to get better, so it’s my last season and I really want to make the most of it, so I’m kind of shooting for the stars.”

Last season Porter swam as a member of the 400 free relay team that conquered the 2017 Pac-12 Championship and earned NCAA All-American status in the 400 free relay. 

“I’m taking my training very seriously and my recovery very seriously," Porter said. "Everyday I walk on this pool deck, I know I’m not supposed to be here, so everyday is a gift.”

This extra year of eligibility was not easy, but it secures two experienced swimmers for the 2017-18 season.

“Seeing those guys' reactions, they get an opportunity to swim and represent ASU," Chandler said. "They were passionate about this – I was passionate too." 





Reach the reporter at nsheehy@asu.edu or follow @nsheehy_nick on Twitter.

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