NCAA Cabinet Makes Rules Modifications

July 16, 2003

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Two playing rules issues that were not necessarily high on the Division I Championships/Competition Cabinet's agenda emerged as big discussion items for the group at its June 24-26 meeting in Bonita Springs, Florida.

One discussion was prompted by the NCAA Men's and Women's Basketball Rules Committees' decision to withdraw a proposal regarding the international three-point line and free-throw lane, while the other regarded the proposed zero-tolerance language policy in soccer.

The basketball court markings were on the cabinet's agenda, since rules with a financial impact fall under the cabinet's oversight, but the rules committees' decision to withdraw the proposal meant that the cabinet was not required to take any action.

The basketball rules committees developed the changes regarding the international three-point line and free-throw lane during their May meetings, though members understood that the line markings carried a financial impact and thus were subject to approval from the cabinet and the Divisions II and III Championships Committees. As concerns mounted, however, the rules committees decided earlier in June to delay implementation of the proposals to the 2004-05 season, thus giving institutions more time to prepare for the changes.

Now, though, the rules committees have decided to delay even having the divisional championships groups review the proposal. The committees released a statement saying they want more time to "educate coaches about the proposed changes and the process by which they were formed."

Thus, cabinet members discussed the issue in an attempt to provide information to the committees as they continue their educational efforts. Though financial concerns cabinet members may have had were mitigated because of the rules committees' decision to withdraw, some worried that schools with early budget cycles may not even be able to absorb the budgetary impact the new court markings would create for 2004-05.

The discussion prompted the cabinet to agree that institutions need an academic year's notice before rules changes that carry a financial impact can be implemented. The only exception to that policy would be if the rule had an impact on player safety, in which case the rule could be implemented immediately.

The cabinet's other primary playing rules discussion concerned a soccer rule that wasn't originally on the cabinet's action list.

The Men's and Women's Soccer Rules Committee in February endorsed a zero-tolerance language rule that would eject from the game any player who uses profane, offensive, insulting, vulgar or abusive language. The committee supported the policy as a way to enhance the image of the sport by addressing a growing language concern.

But image of the sport, another of the cabinet's oversight areas (in addition to financial impact and student-athlete safety) is what prompted the cabinet to make the proposal an agenda item after all. Cabinet members said that though they did not disagree with the intent of the rule, the issue of language and good sportsmanship should be applied Association-wide rather than sport by sport. Thus, the cabinet sent the proposal back to the soccer rules committee, which means it will not be in place for the 2003 season.

The cabinet also noted that mechanics are in place for soccer officials to enforce existing playing rules that prohibit language abuse. The cabinet is encouraging the rules committee to appeal to officials for stricter enforcement of existing guidelines rather than instituting a zero-tolerance policy.

In addition, the cabinet stressed that in the future, press releases or other written correspondence about changes emerging from rules committee meetings should emphasize that the proposals are subject to cabinet oversight if they deal with financial impact, player safety or image of the sport.

In other playing rules items, the cabinet:

* Approved use of a timing mechanism in men's basketball that enables an official to start and stop the game clock automatically on the official's whistle.

* Approved the Men's and Women's Basketball Rules Committees' recommendation to require that in the rare instance when a student-athlete with eligibility for the next season gets into a fight in the last game of the season and that fight is his or her second of the season, the student-athlete be suspended for the first three regular-season games of the following season.

* Approved the Men's and Women's Basketball Rules Committees' recommendation to require that the red light behind the backboard that signifies the end of a period must be visible through the marked rectangle on the backboard. However, LED lights around the backboard may be used in lieu of the red lights.

Other highlights
Division I Championships/Competition Cabinet
June 24-26/Bonita Springs, Florida

Reviewed a recommendation from the cabinet's certified contests subcommittee that would require institutions to count all contests against outside competition, including those currently categorized as exempted contests, against their maximum number of contests. The cabinet referred the issue to its playing and practice subcommittee and requested that both subcommittees review maximum contest limits in all sports and, if appropriate, develop a joint proposal.

Approved several recommendations from the Division I Basketball Issues Committee, including recommended changes to the recruiting calendar.

Did not support a proposal from the cabinet's playing and practice seasons subcommittee that would amend the "required day off" legislation to specify that any day during which a student-athlete travels to or from competition shall not be considered that student-athlete's day off, even if that student-athlete does not participate in any other countable athletically related activities. Cabinet members cited the potential impact the proposal had on scheduling, player safety and competitive equity as reasons for not supporting the proposal.

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