Smith stays in Madison

first_imgBEN CLASSON/Herald photoWhen the Wisconsin football team leaves for Las Vegas Friday, Lance Smith will not be on the plane. The sophomore reserve running back has been suspended for five games, athletic director Barry Alvarez and Dean of Students Lori Berquam announced Wednesday.Smith’s suspension stems from a July altercation with his girlfriend that resulted in him being charged with misdemeanor battery and disorderly conduct. He was originally reinstated to the team in time for the first practice of fall camp, but shortly thereafter it was determined he would be subject to a subsequent suspension.”About two weeks away from our opening game, it became apparent to me — I was told by university officials we would lose Lance for a certain number of games,” Bielema said. “It basically got down to when those games were going to be and how they were going to be determined.”Smith will not serve the five-game sentence consecutively. Instead, he will be suspended for all five of UW’s road games, including this Saturday’s game at UNLV and four Big Ten conference games. “It was one week before the Washington State game where [university officials] came up with the plan with the assumption it would allow Lance to concentrate — he wouldn’t have to travel — on his academics,” Bielema added.Smith, who rushed 11 times for 60 yards in Wisconsin’s 42-21 win over Washington State Saturday, will be replaced on the running back succession by true freshmen Zach Brown and John Clay. Brown ran for 13 yards Saturday, while Clay hasn’t seen any action on offense. Both will likely see at least some time Saturday and in upcoming road games. While both are largely or entirely unproven on the college level, now is their opportunity to gain some experience.”A lot of times guys get their first opportunity when something happens on the field,” Bielema said. “A guy goes down, and somebody gets to step in and have their chance to perform and their chance to take advantage of.”Really, from a running back standpoint, this is an opportunity for the next man in to step up and show what he does.”Smith will now face the challenge of having to deal with extended stretches of time when he is not in the UW gameplan and does not receive many practice repetitions. Since Smith was made aware of the situation, Bielema said he has been a model of positivity.”Since the time of that incident, I can say Lance has probably been as good in this program, in this building, as I’ve ever seen him,” he said.The decision to resuspend Smith was out of Bielema’s hands. For someone who has a history of giving players a second chance and for reducing suspensions on players who respond positively to discipline as Smith has, Bielema was less than thrilled with the decision.”I wasn’t really involved,” he said. “The one thing I wanted to establish in this program is, I’ll handle discipline on my own, very, very well. I don’t need outside people coming in and determining what happens.”Before the season started, I threw off what possibly could be our best defensive end, based on what I believed was in the best interest of our team,” Bielema continued. “I’m not afraid to make a decision based on the facts in front of me.”Last season, cornerback Jack Ikegwuonu’s discipline following an alleged robbery was handled internally, as was linebacker Elijah Hodge’s, which came from an incident involving the rightful ownership of a scooter. Charges are still pending in the Ikegwuonu case; Hodge’s case was resolved shortly thereafter.This time, however, the Offices of the Dean of Students was involved.”From what I understand, and I won’t get into specifics, it involved a student with a student,” Bielema explained.last_img

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