The NCAA Women’s Basketball Rules Committee on Wednesday recommended moving the 3-point line back a foot to 20 feet, 9 inches for the 2011-12 season.

All recommendations must be approved by the Playing Rules Oversight Panel, which is scheduled to meet via conference call June 9. The 20-foot, 9-inch 3-point line has been used in collegiate men’s basketball since the 2008-09 season.

The women’s committee has examined the distance of the 3-point line for years. Last season, the committee asked teams to track the number of 3-point field-goal attempts taken behind the 20-foot, 9-inch line and the current 19-foot, 9-inch line during exhibition games and 40-minute game-like scrimmages.

Overall, 194 institutions (100 in Division I, 57 in Division II and 34 in Division III) reported back to the committee. Data collected from all three divisions showed most of the attempts and makes came from behind the 20-foot, 9-inch line.
Of the shots tracked, teams were 1,046 of 3,203 (33 percent) from behind the 20-foot, 9-inch line. The data also showed teams were 546 for 1,823 (30 percent) between 19-feet, 9-inches and 20-feet, 9 inches.

“The data show that our student-athletes are shooting behind that farthest line at a higher rate,” said Rice Senior Associate Athletics Director Leslie Claybrook, who chairs the committee.

Claybrook said the change may not be popular among coaches, but the committee believes the women’s game will be aided by this move.

“Change is always tough, but we think this will open up some things offensively in the women’s game,” Claybrook said. “The committee had great conversations prior to and during this meeting about the 3-point line. We think this can be a game-changer for women’s basketball and open up the inside play as well.”

Experimental rule
Committee members also voted to ask teams to use a 10-second half-court rule in closed scrimmages and exhibition games next season.

The committee wants teams to report the number of turnovers, fouls, points and other relevant data to determine the effect the rule has on play in all three divisions.

This committee thoroughly debated the concept. Proponents believe adding a 10-second count to cross half court would increase the tempo and strategy of the game with more teams extending their defense. Opponents believe it would add more stoppages to the game such as turnovers and fouls by teams that are trying to press full court.

There was some sentiment that if a 10-second back court rule is added to women’s collegiate basketball, the shot clock should be increased to 35 seconds instead of the current 30 seconds.

“The debate is whether this will be an offensive tool or a defensive tool,” Claybrook said. “We haven’t gotten any consensus on this, but after collecting more data, we can decide what is best for women’s basketball.”

Restricted area arc
The committee recommended adding a restricted area arc located three feet from the center of the basket in which a secondary defender cannot legally take a charge.

The proposal would take effect in the 2011-12 season in all three divisions. The restricted area arc must be clearly marked and discernable in the lane.

“We wanted to look at the contact that is occurring under the basket,” Claybrook said. “This is a health and safety issue for our student-athletes, and we were also concerned with how it looks visually to the fans. It gives our officials a chance to referee the play.”

The committee changed nomenclature in regard to fouls that are deemed more than a common foul.

The terms Flagrant 1 and Flagrant 2 will now be used in those situations.

An example of a Flagrant 1 foul would be a player who swings an elbow and makes contact with an opponent above the shoulders. The team whose player was struck would receive two free throws and possession of the ball.

Previously, that type of foul was called an intentional foul. The committee wanted to move away from the word “intentional” because a player’s intent was never the point of the rule.

An example of a Flagrant 2 foul would be a player who swings an elbow excessively and makes contact with an opponent above the shoulders. In that case, the player who threw the elbow would be ejected from the game and the opposing team would receive two free throws and the ball.

Previously, that was called a flagrant foul.