The NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Rules Committee is recommending a tweak to the faceoff procedure for officials to follow starting with the 2017 season.

The committee, which met Aug. 9-11 in Indianapolis, passed a proposal to modify the officiating mechanic used during faceoffs. During the faceoff procedure, game officials will center the ball 5 inches from the middle of the head of each faceoff player’s stick. The rules proposal aims to make the officiating mechanic clear and consistent for each faceoff and to enhance the fairness of the faceoff play.

All rules proposals must be approved by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel, which is scheduled to discuss men’s lacrosse rules changes via conference call Sept. 13.

The committee also recommended a proposal that corrects a loophole in the timeout rules. Under the proposal, calling a timeout will also satisfy the clearing rule. Previously, if a team called timeout, the clearing rule remained in effect and the team in possession had 30 seconds to advance the ball into the attack area. It has become a tactic by the team in possession to waste time, particularly late in a game or half, which the committee felt was not in the spirit of the rules.

The committee spent a considerable amount of time discussing its rules focused on safety, stalling rules and the dive play. The group reviewed several video examples and ultimately believed the current rules are serving the game well and officials generally are enforcing the rules properly. Continued educational materials for officials and coaches are planned for the upcoming season.

Experimental rules

After a thorough review, the committee said it was pleased with the overall state of the game, so it used its annual meeting to focus on experimental rules that could improve play in the future.

“The rules changes in recent years have helped to return the speed and pace of play to the game,” said Bob Scalise, chair of the committee and director of athletics at Harvard University. “The committee is pleased overall with the look and feel of the game, and our rules survey and feedback agree with this sentiment. The committee is always looking to improve the game, but no major rules changes are needed at this time.”

To advance the game, the committee recommended four experimental rules concepts for use in the fall non-traditional season. The experimental rules will first need to be approved by PROP before being used in the non-traditional season.

  • Two-point goals. This experimental rule awards two points if a team scores within 30 seconds of gaining possession. After 30 seconds have elapsed, normal rules will apply. If a team calls a timeout, the offensive team shall not be awarded two points. This experimentation includes a variety of timing options (visible shot clock, etc.).
  • Restricted offensive area. The committee would like to have a variety of areas (attack area, extended attack area with an arc in the middle of the field, etc.) utilized as an option to see how it impacts offensive play.  For this rule, once offensive teams have moved the ball into the restricted offensive area, they would not be allowed to move it back out, thus preventing teams from stalling.
  • Ten-yard substitution area. The committee would like to study the impact of a smaller substitution box (10 yards), particularly looking at whether more offensive transition opportunities are created with a smaller box.
  • Communication devices for on-field officials. Many sports (e.g., field hockey, soccer, football, etc.) are using headsets for officials to communicate during play. The committee believes this could be beneficial in men’s lacrosse. It would like to collect information on the cost, availability and quality of such devices.


If approved, men’s lacrosse programs are encouraged to implement any experimental rules that they wish to test. The NCAA will develop an online process to collect data and information from coaches and officials. The rules can be used in the fall season in any format (intrasquad scrimmage, practice, scrimmage with outside competition, etc.).

The committee will review the feedback and data collected as it considers the rules for future implementation.