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Publish date: Mar 7, 2013

Playing rules panel approves more stringent penalty in football

By Greg Johnson

The Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved a new football rule that requires players who target and contact defenseless players above the shoulders to be ejected, effective for the 2013 season. The change increases the on-field penalty for targeting by adding the automatic ejection to the existing 15-yard penalty.

Panel members during their Wednesday teleconference also approved a proposal in track and field that requires padding in and around the pole vault box. The proposal, which the panel had tabled in February until more details could be gathered on testing, goes into effect Dec. 1, 2013.

The new rule in football means that discipline for those players flagged for violations will mirror the penalty for fighting. If the foul occurs in the first half of a game, the player is ejected for the remainder of the game. If the foul occurs in the second half or overtime of a game, the player is ejected for the remainder of the game and the first half of the next contest.

In an effort to address concerns when one of these plays is erroneously called on the field, the ejection portion of the penalty will be reviewable through video replay. The replay official must have conclusive evidence that a player should not be ejected to overturn the call on the field.

Additionally, a postgame conference review remains part of the rule, and conferences retain their ability to add to a sanction. The committee will also allow a postgame review to reduce a suspension if warranted.

The Playing Rules Oversight Panel also approved a new rule regarding blocking below the waist. In the past two years, the Football Rules Committee has adjusted rules governing these blocks in an attempt to reduce or remove potentially dangerous plays. But the changes have caused more confusion and inconsistency than intended. The new rule focuses on the block itself and will allow these blocks by stationary players in typical line play.

In other action, the oversight panel denied the Football Rules Committee’s proposal to require an institution’s jersey or pant color to be different from the field of play, citing concerns that it did not enhance the image of the game. Additionally, the panel denied a proposal to move the down and distance markers to the other side of the field for the second half.

A number of football rules changes were approved, however, including:

Pole vault provisions

The Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved a student-athlete-safety proposal from the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Track and Field/Cross Country Rules Committee to require padding in and around the pole vault box collar. The new rule calls for the padding to be installed by Dec. 1, 2013, wherever NCAA competition takes place.

The NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports supported the proposal for safety purposes after ASTM International, a nonprofit organization that provides a forum for the development and publication of international voluntary consensus standards for materials, products, systems and services, released a specification standard on the type of padding device that should be used in and around the pole vault box collar.

The padding must meet the most current ASTM Specification Standard and can be incorporated into the design of the pole vault box or a padding addition to an existing pole vault box. The cost is expected to be about $600.

Previously, panel members had tabled this issue during a conference call in February.   

During the comment period leading up to the approval of the new rule, oversight panel members received feedback from coaches who had reservations about adding padding to the pole vault box collar and whether it could distract competitors. Additional concerns centered on how many pole vault tests were conducted, and whether the tests included NCAA intercollegiate pole vault competitors.

After receiving information from ASTM officials regarding testing of the new standard and reviewing data and feedback from NCAA coaches currently using the new device, the oversight panel felt its concerns had been adequately addressed to merit approval of the proposal.

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