Bickerstaff Ineligible

Erik Bickerstaff was the Badgers' biggest surprise last spring, coming out of nowhere to become a dominant fullback/tailback. But in another offensive setback, Bickerstaff learned he will not have a fifth year of eligibility.

One of the biggest surprises last spring was the sheer dominance of Erik Bickerstaff. The 6-foot, 229-pound senior was named Inside Wisconsin Magazine's Most Improved Player for the spring. He was incredible in every scrimmage situation, getting snaps at fullback and tailback. He was expected to be a major weapon in the Badger offense this fall, giving Coach Barry Alvarez the big back he was looking for.

Furthermore, Bickerstaff had made the necessary changes off the field to make an impact. In the past, any improvement on the field was offset by an incident off the field that stunted his development. From all accounts, Bickerstaff was a matured player and human being, and was fully devoted to realizing his potential.

But Bickerstaff will not have the opportunity to showcase his skills in Div. I football. The following was released Tuesday by the UW sports information department:

MADISON, Wis. - Erik Bickerstaff, a fullback with the Wisconsin football team, will not be eligible to play for the Badgers this fall, head coach Barry Alvarez announced Tuesday.

Bickerstaff was a partial qualifier as a freshman at Wisconsin and, therefore, lost that year of eligibility. NCAA rules state that a partial qualifier can gain back that lost year if the student-athlete earns a degree in four years. Bickerstaff, who is academically eligible as far as his grade-point average is concerned, is just short of completing his coursework in four years.

"I feel badly for Erik because he worked very hard to earn that lost year back," Alvarez said. "He was one of our best players in the spring and we were counting on him for the fall. We will try to help him relocate to an NAIA school so he can play this fall. He then could come back to finish his academic work and earn his degree from Wisconsin."

Bickerstaff would have been a senior at Wisconsin this fall and had played his way to the No. 1 fullback spot for the Badgers.

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