Sources said the NCAA interviewed both Swanigan and his legal father, agent Roosevelt Barnes, about their relationship while determining Swanigan’s eligibility.
According to Bleacher Report, Barnes — a sports agent who graduated from Purdue — adopted Swanigan in 2011, when he was a 6-foot-2, 360-pound eighth-grader.
Swanigan, who grew up in Lafayette, Indiana, was living in a homeless shelter in Salt Lake City at the time. According to Bleacher Report, his father was battling a substance abuse problem, his mother wasn’t working, and all five of his older siblings had dropped out of high school.
“I adopted Biggie because I loved him unconditionally,” Barnes, 57, told Bleacher Report, using Swanigan’s nickname. “I wanted to show him that, no matter what happened, I wasn’t going anywhere. I felt like it was my responsibility as a man to help this kid, because no one else was going to do it.
“If I was going to go out and get a kid for basketball reasons, I’d go find a Chris Webber or a Shaquille O’Neal — a freak. The only thing freakish thing about [Swanigan] was how many calories he could devour. Maybe if I wanted to develop the next hot dog-eating champion, the next Joey Chestnut, people would have a legitimate gripe.”
Swanigan has lost more than 100 pounds and is now 6-9, 250 pounds.
He was the prize of Painter’s recruiting class, choosing Purdue over Cal and Michigan State after initially committing to play for Tom Izzo and the Spartans. He was a McDonald’s All American and was ranked No. 9 in the ESPN 100 for the Class of 2015.
Purdue opens its season Nov. 13 against North Carolina A&T in West Lafayette.