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Greg Johnson, NCAA.com | April 20, 2021

College wrestling: Committee modifies rules for correcting in-match timing errors

2021 DI wrestling finals: Spencer Lee vs. Brandon Courtney (125 pounds)

The NCAA Wrestling Rules Committee recommends rules changes that allow the referee to correct timing errors when they have reasonable positive knowledge of the correction that needs to be made.     

All rules proposals must be approved by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel, which is scheduled to discuss wrestling rules recommendations this summer.

Committee members, who met virtually last week, proposed that competition that occurs when the clock is not running is not subject to the dead time rule. The recommendation also provides parameters for referees to utilize when determining the amount of time to add or subtract from the score clock.

  • If available, the referee will look at the video review monitor and use the view of the integrated timing system or view of the score clock to determine the correct time.
  • If video review is not available or the integrated system is not operable or there is no view of the score clock, the referee will consult with the second referee and the timer at the score table to determine the correct amount of time remaining.
  • After consulting the second referee and/or the timer, referees may correct the timing if they determine they have reasonable positive knowledge of the correction that needs to be made.  If the timing correction results in a scoring change, the referee would make the appropriate scoring correction.
  • All timing corrections will have to be made in the period in which they occur.
  • Prior to the match restarting, the referee should notify both teams of the timing changes that are made.
  • If the referee can’t determine an accurate time, the score clock will be set to the last known time.
  • Referees decisions on timing and scoring corrections are final.

NCAA Wrestling Secretary-Rules Editor, Chuck Barbee, stated, “One of the most important factors for coaches and wrestlers to understand with this proposal is that timing errors will no longer be subject to dead time. This means, all wrestling action that occurs from the referee’s starting whistle to their stop whistle is live action, whether the clock is running or not.”


The committee recommended changing the first sudden-victory overtime period to two minutes in length.

In addition to the time change for sudden victory, the committee also recommended that one of the wrestlers may be declared the winner after the first round of two 30-second tiebreaker periods, if either of the wrestlers has at least one second of advantage time, after the tiebreaker is completed.

Currently, both the first and second sudden-victory overtime period are one minute in length.  With this proposal, the second one-minute sudden victory would remain at one minute. 

Other recommendations

  • Committee members proposed moving weigh-ins to two hours or sooner before the start time of each day of competition in multi-day individual or team advancement tournaments.
  • The committee recommended allowing referee video reviews (no coach challenges) for extra matches when those matches are held in conjunction with dual meet competitions.
  • The committee recommends allowing a 1-pound weight allowance  on the second day of competition for all instances when back-to-back official team competition occurs. The event must be an official team date of competition as per the NCAA Bylaws for the 1-pound weight allowance to be used.
  • The committee recommended allowing referee video reviews (no coach challenges) for open tournaments. 
  • The committee also defined, for the purposes of playing rules, that any event that allowed unattached wrestlers would be considered an open event.
  • The committee recommended continued education and training to both coaches and referees on the proper expectations and application of neutral out of bounds stalling rules. 
  • The committee is recommending a one-time exemption to the 1.5 percent weight loss descent plan for a wrestler that moves up one weight class to compete.  When the exemption is used, the wrestler may weigh-in at the higher weight class, and rather than using the 1.5 percent weight loss per week rule, the wrestler may compete at the lower weight class after five days elapse.

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