The NCAA Women’s Volleyball Rules Committee recommended including an option to add a third referee to conduct all video challenge reviews during a match, beginning in the 2020 season.
Before going into effect, rules changes must be approved by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel, which is scheduled to discuss all women’s volleyball proposals Feb. 26.
The proposed addition of the third referee would be optional for schools and conferences due to the financial implications.
Over the past two seasons, the Southeastern Conference experimented with having a third official handle video challenge reviews. In 2019, the average video review in the SEC was completed in 1 minute, 10 seconds. In NCAA women’s volleyball matches in which the second referee handled video challenge reviews last year, the reviews were completed in an average of 1:29.
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“The committee felt this rule can help streamline the challenge review system in two ways,” said Craig Skinner, rules committee chair and women’s volleyball coach at Kentucky. “First, it can cut down on the time it takes to do the review challenge, and secondly, it allows the first referee and second referee to focus on their jobs. They don’t have to spend time and energy on the technology aspect of the game.”
Skinner added that coaches in his league liked the optics of having a third person not involved in the original call to review coach’s challenges.
“In football, the SEC goes to the conference office for the video reviews,” Skinner said. “The NFL does that, too. It helps that there is another unbiased opinion on the result of the call.”
The committee also recommended the following rules proposals:
- Assessing teams an administrative red card for uniform violations (numbers not contrasting with the color of the uniform) and having teams with uniform violations start the match down 1-0 in the first set.
- Combining plays on whether the ball or a player touched an antenna to the review category of in/out/touch/net violations.
- Allowing coaches to challenge any play when the decision is based on whether a player touched the ball, including back-row attacks and back-row blocks, or whether a player illegally reached over the net.
- Allowing either coach to challenge a fault that occurred before a replay.
- Allowing players to wear shorts or leggings next season, provided all teammates wear the same color.
- Allowing line judges to provide input when requested by the first referee on decisions involving whether the ball or a player touched an antenna or whether a player played the ball in a nonplayable area.
Challenge Review System
Committee members had a thorough discussion regarding the number of video challenge reviews coaches should have.
The committee discussed several scenarios, including concepts where coaches would retain a challenge if the original call is overturned.
After the spirited debate, the committee voted to maintain the current rules of the challenge review system. Each team will have three challenges at the start of the match and will be given one additional challenge should a match reach a fifth set. Regardless of whether the challenge is successful, each challenge can be used only once.
“I felt the committee did a good job of gathering all the information from several different sources to come to the conclusion that our CRS is in a really good place,” Skinner said. “Until we have more information to make it better, we felt that we should stay where we are.”