INDIANAPOLIS — The NCAA’s Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved changes in football to better manage blocking below the waist and enhance player safety. The changes are final and will be in effect for the upcoming 2011 season.
The panel, which met via conference call Thursday, agreed with NCAA Football Rules Committee recommendations that attempt to eliminate unsuspecting players from absorbing low blocks.
Blocking below the waist is illegal except on scrimmage plays in the following instances:
• Wide receivers more than seven yards from the center at the snap of the ball can block below the waist only against a player facing him or toward the nearest sideline.
• Running backs/receivers in the backfield and outside the tackle box (the area five yards on either side of the center) or players in motion can block below the waist only on players facing them or toward the nearest sideline.
Players on the line of scrimmage within seven yards of the center are still allowed to block below the waist anywhere on the field.
Previously, officials had to determine where a player started at the snap or, in the case of wide receivers, how far down the field the receiver was to determine whether the block below the waist was legal.
Also for player safety, the panel approved penalizing instances in which three defensive players line up shoulder-to-shoulder and move forward on place kicks. Coaches on the NCAA Football Rules Committee cited examples of where one offensive lineman is overpowered by three defensive players in an attempt to penetrate the line of scrimmage in order to block a kick.
Another new football rule that will be enforced is a 10-second rundown of the game clock if a team commits a foul that stops the clock in the final minute of both halves.
The opponent has three options in these instances:
• Take the yardage penalty and the 10-second rundown.
• Take the yardage penalty without the 10-second rundown.
• Decline both the 10-second rundown and the penalty yardage.
Taunting rule takes effect this fall
This will be the first year of the rule change regarding unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, which will be treated as either live-ball or dead-ball fouls. Previously, all fouls of this kind were treated as dead-ball fouls.
The change means, for example, that if a player makes a taunting gesture to an opponent on the way to scoring a touchdown, the flag would nullify the score and penalize the offending team 15 yards from the spot of the foul.
Penalties for dead-ball misconduct fouls (for example, unsportsmanlike behavior after the player crosses the goal line) continue to be assessed on the ensuing kickoff or the extra point/two point conversion attempt.
Another rule that goes into effect this season is video monitors being allowed in the coaches’ booth for the purpose of determining whether a team should request an instant-replay challenge. Only a live broadcast of the game will be allowed (that is, no editing/rewinding capabilities). If monitors are installed, the home team must provide the same equipment in both coaching booths.
Future volleyball rules changes
In women’s volleyball, the panel approved a future rules change that calls for either the libero or her teammates to wear a solid-colored jersey starting in 2013. The libero’s shirt or jersey must be in clear contrast to the other members of the team.
The rationale for the rules change is to allow for an easier delineation for officials, who are having trouble distinguishing liberos from other players because the uniforms are similar.
The delay in implementation until 2013 is to provide institutions with advance notice of the rule before purchasing uniforms in the future.
The panel also approved a change in the sequence of signals by the referee after a point is scored. The rule goes into effect in 2012 and requires the referee to first signal which team is serving the next point, then signal the nature of the call. This sequence is being used in USA Volleyball and in international volleyball matches.