Update: Arizona has confirmed that Tandy will have two years of eligibility: this season and next.
The biggest news, perhaps, of the men’s NCAA Championship season so far, was handed down on Monday, when the NCAA finally decided that South African Brad Tandy would be eligible to compete for the Arizona Wildcats this season. Tandy confirmed the ruling on Tuesday morning to SwimSwam.
That will become a massive boost for the Arizona men’s team because Tandy will be competitive at the end of March for the title of the country’s top sprinter.
When Tandy initially announced that he would transfer from Indian River State College, a Junior College, to the University of Arizona, SwimSwam was told that he would have two years of eligibility left. However, that has turned into quite a battle with the NCAA, as they debated with the University of Arizona about exactly how many years Tandy would have to swim.
Unofficial sources tell us that the discussions were centered around whether Tandy had taken a year off before first coming to the United States and/or after enrolling into a post-secondary institution, which would have started his five year clock. In the NCAA’s Division I, an athlete has five years after enrollment in ‘college’ (a flexible term) to complete their four years of eligibility, even if those five years aren’t all in an NCAA Division I institution.
Editor’s note: There are exceptions to the five year rule for military service, religious missions, and recognized foreign aid services of the U.S. Government.
All of that is now washed away, and we’ll see Tandy make his official Arizona debut at the upcoming Pac 12 Championships in Federal Way, Washington. Though he’s not swum any official NCAA races yet, he’s remained race-ready by taking on several exhibition swims with the Arizona Wildcats. That includes an 18.97 in the 50 free and 42.71 in the 100 free at the mid-season Texas Hall of Fame Invitational. In the 50, Tandy becomes one of the top three contenders for the national championship, alongside Florida’s Brad deBorde and Auburn’s Marcelo Chierighini.
What’s more, he solves in part the sprinting problem that Arizona has had this season where they’ve used a few different guys to anchor their medley relays. The focus for those medleys now becomes whether or not Giles Smith is healthy; if he is (he’s missed a few meets this semester), then the Wildcats are probably the favorites in the medleys with Mitchell Friedemann, Kevin Cordes, and Smith in front of Tandy. Specifically, that’s a healthy quartet where all four swimmers could contend for their respective national titles.
In all, it’s likely that Tandy’s addition to this Wildcat lineup for NCAA’s (technically, he still has to qualify) could have as much as a 70 or 80 point impact for Arizona.