Aug. 14, 2001
BERKELEY - Cal's depth at tailback took a hit Tuesday when junior Joseph Echema was ruled academically ineligible by an NCAA appeals committee.
Echema, who is in good academic standing at Cal, did not pass enough units during the 2000-01 academic year to satisfy NCAA requirements. However, because he passed more than the minimum required units as freshman and is on track to graduate, Cal filed an appeal on his behalf.
"We went through the appeals process, but the NCAA did not accept it," head coach Tom Holmoe said. "Joe just didn't complete enough units. You don't want to have to put your eligibility in the hands of the NCAA because you never know what might happen."
Echema entered fall practice as the No. 2 tailback behind returning starter junior Joe Igber and, despite not being able to play, will be allowed to practice with the Bears this fall. Redshirt-freshman Michael Sparks now moves up as the primary backup to Igber, who gained 901 yards last year. Sparks is followed on the depth chart by true freshmen Terrell Williams and Will Scott.
"We have a lot of players at the tailback spot," Holmoe said. "They just don't have the experience of Joe (Echema)."
Echema was Cal's third-leading rusher last season with 215 yards and three touchdowns.