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NCAA | February 28, 2018

Football Rules Committee focusing on safety issues

The NCAA Football Rules Committee will discuss health and safety issues regarding targeting, blocking below the waist and possible modifications to kickoff plays when it convenes this week in Indianapolis.

Each area is a topic the committee has discussed and addressed in recent years as it has examined health and safety issues in the game.

Since the 2016 season, targeting penalties have increased more than 10 percent in Division I games. Part of the increase could be attributed to expansions in the rule, such as allowing video replay officials to stop play if they feel the on-field officials missed a possible targeting foul.

Replay officials now are instructed to review all aspects of a targeting call. This includes judging forcible contact and whether they consider the player who receives the forcible contact to the head or neck area to be defenseless.

“We will thoroughly review all aspects of the rules, including targeting,” said Steve Shaw, secretary-rules editor of the committee. “The targeting rule has changed player behavior and has made a positive impact on the game. In all areas, the committee continues to investigate ways to improve our rules for student-athlete safety and fairness of play.”

Blocking below the waist is another topic that has received ample attention from the committee in recent years.

One concept that will be discussed is disallowing any blocks below the waist more than 10 yards down the field. Blocking below the waist currently is prohibited on all kick plays and during interception or fumble returns.

“The rules that deal with blocking below the waist are difficult to coach and officiate,” Shaw said. “The difficulty is balancing style of play concerns and player safety to create rules that are not too complicated to understand and that are good for the game.”

Other blocking tactics that will be examined are blindside blocks. Currently, blindside blocks are legal if the contact is made above the waist and below the head and neck area. The committee will discuss if there are ways to make this type of block safer.

The committee will receive a report regarding pace of play and the potential impact of rules changes that have been considered in the past, based on NCAA research. Instant replay rules and review processes also will be discussed. The committee also will meet jointly with representatives from the Division I Football Oversight Committee and the National Football League’s Competition Committee.

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