The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved adding the word “flagrantly” to the men’s and women’s track and field rules pertaining to when a competitor should be in violation of impeding a runner.

The change was recommended by the Men’s and Women’s Track and Field Committee during its meeting in June. The rule is effective beginning Dec. 1, 2014, and distinguishes flagrant contact from the incidental contact that can occur during running events.

The referee, after consulting with the appropriate officials, can now disqualify a competitor who:

• Flagrantly jostles, cuts across or obstructs another competitor so as to impede the other runner’s progress. Direct contact is not necessary; any action that causes another runner to break stride or lose momentum is grounds for disqualification.

• Flagrantly veers to the right or to the left so as to impede a challenging runner or forces the challenging runner to run a greater distance.

The panel also approved an amendment to the rule that addresses races run on curves. If a runner steps on or over the lane line to the left with two consecutive steps of either both feet or a single foot, they will be disqualified.

Event Management Concerns

The NCAA Men’s and Women’s Track and Field Rules Committee also re-emphasized that all running and field competitions must be conducted as written in the rules book starting in the 2014-15 academic year. The subject was a topic of discussion during the committee’s June meeting.

Committee members are concerned with the recent trend of reducing the number of rounds of competitions at meets containing large numbers of competitors entered in an event.

In those situations, the committee believes there is a tendency for meet organizers around the country to be creative with the rules in order to reduce the number of rounds of competition. For example, if there are a larger number of runners competing in the 200-meter dash at a meet, the rules require that subsequent rounds of competition be conducted (first round, quarterfinal, semifinal and final).

The committee determined that around the country, meet organizers are arbitrarily splitting the large number of competitors into divisions at the meet, which means the athletes are only required to run two rounds of competition.

The track and field rules committee wants meet organizers to understand that this practice is no longer acceptable.

The committee said meets can no longer use the practice of splitting a particular event into special sections.