NCAA committee recommends nine new rules, including ejection for targeting defenseless players

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The NCAA Rules Committee unanimously approved to eject players who target hits above the shoulders for a defenseless player. You can read the full report here. And if the Playing Rules Oversight Panel approves the plan next month, the rule will be implemented starting this season.

Currently, targeting a defenseless player is defined in the NCAA in Rule 9 as shown below. Players who are guilty of hitting defenseless players now are just penalized 15 yards, and two SEC players in Ole Miss’ Trae Elston and South Carolina’s DJ Swearinger were suspended for the next game in 2012. In both cases, the league announced the hits were in violation of Rule 9-1-4 of the NCAA rulebook.

  • Rule 9, Article 3: “No player shall target and initiate contact against an opponent with the crown (top) of his helmet. When in question, it is a foul.’’
  • Rule 9, Article 4: “No player shall target and initiate contact to the head or neck area of a defenseless opponent with the helmet, forearm, elbow or shoulder. When in question, it is a foul.”

However, under the new proposed rule, the targeting of a player that doesn’t come below the shoulders results in an automatic ejection and a 15-yard penalty. If the hit occurs in the first half, the player is ejected for the remainder of the game, but if it occurs in the second half, the player is ejected for the remainder of the game and for the first half of the next game.

The biggest issue with the proposed new ejection rule is that we are counting on the referees being good enough to make such judgement calls that will have such a big influence over the outcome of game. Secondly, the “targeting” and “defenseless” have to be better defined moving forward.

Here is a list of the eight other rules proposed:

  • To add a 10-second runoff with less than a minute remaining in either half when the sole reason for the clock to stop is an injury.
  • To establish three seconds as the minimum amount of time required to be on the game clock in order to spike the ball to stop the clock. If one or two seconds remain on the clock, there is only time for the offense to run one more play.
  • To require a player that changes numbers during the game to report this to the referee, who will announce the change.
  • To only allow one player number to be worn by the same team and participate at the same position (e.g., two quarterbacks on the same team are not allowed to have the same number).
  • To require teams to have either their jerseys or pants contrast in color to the playing field (this one is for you, Boise State).
  • To allow the use of electronic communication by the on-field officiating crew after successful experimentation by the Southeastern Conference. This is not a required piece of equipment but will allow officiating crews to use this tool.
  • To allow the Big 12 Conference to experiment with using an eighth official on the field in conference games. This official would be placed in the backfield opposite the referee.
  • To allow instant replay to adjust the clock at the end of each quarter. Previously, this provision was only in place for the end of each half.

The Playing Rules Oversight Panel meets March 6th to review the proposed changes.

Photo Credit: John David Mercer-US PRESSWIRE

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