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Foul-up costs Bickerstaff a final year of football
of the Journal Sentinel staff
Last Updated: July 16, 2002
Madison - University of Wisconsin senior Erik Bickerstaff, expected to play fullback and tailback in the fall, has exhausted his eligibility and cannot compete for any NCAA school, thanks in part to a failure by UW officials to adequately monitor his academic progress.


Fullback Erik Bickerstaff won't in in a Badger uniform in the fall.

UW officials announced Tuesday that Bickerstaff, a former standout at Waukesha North High School who wowed the Wisconsin coaches during spring practice, was no longer eligible to play for UW.

Bickerstaff was a partial qualifier when he came to UW as a walk-on in 1998, which meant he lost his first year of eligibility and had only three years of eligibility left. According to NCAA rules, Bickerstaff could have regained the lost year by obtaining his degree within four years of enrolling. However, Bickerstaff is on pace to graduate in 41/2 years and UW officials only recently realized his predicament.

"He was lost in the shuffle," said Jerry Darda, an academic adviser who works closely with the football team. "He personally wasn't aware of that he had to graduate in four years. . . . For some reason we forgot he was a partial qualifier.

"If anybody is responsible, it is probably me."

Coach Barry Alvarez was unavailable for comment Tuesday.

In a statement released by the school, Alvarez said: "I feel badly for Erik because he worked very hard to earn that lost year back. He was one of our best players in the spring and we were counting on him in the fall."

According to Tim Bald, UW's director of compliance, the football staff received a participation report this spring that showed Bickerstaff had competed for three years and thus had no eligibility left.

"Our report would have said: 'Seasons of eligibility used - three. Seasons of eligibility remaining - zero,' " Bald said.

The loss of Bickerstaff (6 feet and 229 pounds) presents another obstacle for Wisconsin's offense, which probably will have to make due without wide receiver Lee Evans (knee) for at least the first five games of the season.

Bickerstaff excelled at both fullback and tailback during spring practice and was so impressive that the staff decided it wouldn't need help from any of the incoming freshman running backs.

The loss of Bickerstaff means offensive coordinator Brian White must find a No. 3 tailback behind starter Anthony Davis and backup Jerone Pettus and a fullback to complement senior Russ Kuhns and redshirt freshman Matt Bernstein.

Wisconsin signed five running backs in February, including Booker Stanley of Whitefish Bay High School.
this is not so good news for the badgers..
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