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Greg Johnson | NCAA.org | April 21, 2022

Appeals process approved for football players called for targeting in the second half

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The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel on Wednesday approved football measures intended to strengthen the accuracy of the targeting rule, limit blocking below the waist and address teams that appear to fake injuries to gain an advantage.

All these rules changes will take effect in the 2022 season.

In games that have instant replay, when a targeting foul occurs in the second half, the carryover penalty (of sitting out the first half of that player's next game) will be eligible for further appeal.

The process will begin with a conference submitting a request to the NCAA national coordinator of officials, who would review video of the play. If it is obvious that a player was incorrectly penalized for targeting, the call would be overturned, and the player would be cleared to play in the first half of the next game.

To address teams that are awarded an injury timeout through deceptive actions, panel members approved a reporting and investigation process. Schools and conferences will be able to report questionable scenarios to the national coordinator of officials, who will review and provide feedback to the conference for further action. Any penalties levied would be up to the conference office or school involved.

The NCAA Football Rules Committee considered several in-game options to address this, including altering the injury timeout rule to remove the injured student-athlete for more than one play. Currently, an injured player is required to sit out one play. This concept was debated at length, but the committee was concerned with the additional issues that could be created and did not want to encourage players to continue to participate when injured.

Committee members discussed how the pace of play appears to be contributing to this concern. "We considered all options to address this issue, including allowing both teams an opportunity to substitute after a first down," said David Shaw, chair of the Football Rules Committee and coach at Stanford. "This is another step to consider in the future."

Blocking below the waist

The panel approved a proposal to improve safety and simplify the rules governing blocking below the waist. The proposal will allow blocking below the waist only by linemen and stationary backs inside the tackle box. Outside the tackle box on scrimmage plays, blocking below the waist will be prohibited.

Analysis of available NCAA injury surveillance data indicates a decreasing knee injury trend that coincides with recent rules changes in this area.

Other rules changes 

  • If a ball carrier simulates a feet-first slide, officials will declare the runner down at that spot.
  • Defensive holding will remain a 10-yard penalty but will always carry an automatic first down.

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