What's So Hard About Getting C's
JSOnline's Newswatch is reporting that John Clay has been ruled ineligible to play for Wisconsin in 2007. Clay "has failed to meet the NCAA's minimum academic eligibility standards and won't be allowed to play for UW this season".
Madison - John Clay, a former all-state tailback from Racine Park High School and a key member of the University of Wisconsin's 2007 freshman class, has failed to meet the NCAA's minimum academic eligibility standards and won't be allowed to play for UW this season.Damn it.
Several phone messages left at Clay's home were not returned but multiple sources confirmed the prep All-American had failed to qualify academically.
A phone message left with Dennis Thompson, Clay's coach at Park, was not immediately returned.
UW coach Bret Bielema recently declined to comment on Clay's academic status but did confirm some of the incoming freshmen were still working to meet the NCAA's initial eligibility requirements.
Under NCAA rules, Clay will not be allowed to practice with the team in 2007-'08 or receive athletic aid and will lose a year of eligibility. He can regain that lost year of eligibility, however. To do that, he must complete 80% of his designated degree program by the beginning of his fifth academic year.
Without Clay, UW should have just three scholarship tailbacks on its roster when pre-season camp opens next month.
They are: sophomore P.J. Hill, who rushed for 1,569 yards and 15 touchdowns and was named Big Ten freshman of the year; sophomore Lance Smith, who rushed for 345 yards and five touchdowns; and freshman Zach Brown, who rushed for 1,062 yards and added 149 yards in receptions as a senior last season at Royal Palm Beach High School in Royal Palm, Fla.
Hill missed all of spring practice while recovering from off-season shoulder surgery, though, and Smith at times frustrated the coaching staff because his focus and performances were too inconsistent.
Clay, listed at 6-foot-2 and 222 pounds, is considered a powerful runner. He rushed for 2,032 yards and 30 touchdowns as a junior to lead Park to the WIAA Division I state title. The Panthers failed to make the playoffs last season but Clay still finished with 1,485 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns.
Brown, 5-11 and 198, didn't receive as much national notice as Clay but the UW coaches believe he can contribute immediately.
Clay likely would have had the same opportunity, had he qualified academically.
UW has seen a small number of recruits fail to qualify academically in their first year.
The most notable state player was tailback Michael Bennett, of Milwaukee Tech (now Bradley Tech). Bennett was ineligible as a freshman in 1998, played sparingly behind Ron Dayne in 1999 and then rushed for 1,681 yards and 11 touchdowns as a junior in 2000.
Bennett could have returned to UW but opted to turn pro and was a first-round pick of the Minnesota Vikings in the 2001 NFL draft.