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Mat-side video review could become available next season

By Greg Johnson

The Wrestling Rules Committee has recommended making the mat-side video review rule an option for use beginning in the 2013-14 season, except at open tournaments.

Under the proposal, which must be approved by the Playing Rules Oversight Panel during a June 18conference call, wrestlers would be allowed to go to their respective corner while the review is taking place. The Wrestling Rules Committee met April 9-11.

The process was in place last season as an experimental rule. Wrestlers were required to remain in the center of the wrestling area while the referee conducted the review.

Coaches wishing to challenge a call/non-call via video review must immediately go to the head scorer at the mat-side table and declare they are making a challenge. The referee will conduct the review when there is no significant action after the request has been made.

The number of coaches’ challenges will also be changed in tournament competition. A coach who has seven to 10 wrestlers competing will start with three challenges available; a coach with four to six wrestlers in a tournament will start with two challenges; and a coach with one to three wrestlers participating will have one challenge.

Currently in tournaments, coaches are allowed three video challenges regardless of how many wrestlers they have competing.

Coaches will still have only one challenge available during dual matches. Additionally, falls remain the only exception to a coach’s video challenge. The coach retains the challenge when an outcome is upheld.

The referee can call for a video review at any time. To alleviate any financial impact of the video review, the match referees are the only individuals who will review the call.

At the Division I Wrestling Championships last month, coaches made 51 challenges. Thirty-eight of the calls were upheld, 10 were reversed, two were inconclusive and one was a deemed a video error. The average time per review was one minute and nine seconds.

Mat area

Committee members proposed the matted apron around the wrestling area extend at least 5 feet between out-of-bounds lines when two mats are side-by-side, and at least 5 feet from the out-of-bounds line and any obstruction such as a table, bleachers or wall.

Currently, it is recommended that the apron extend 5 feet, but the committee wants to make it a requirement to enhance student-athlete safety.

Again, all rules proposals the Playing Rules Oversight Panel must approve all changes.

Edge of wrestling area

In a progression of the rule that allows wrestlers to score takedowns on the edge of the wrestling area, committee members are also recommending that near-falls and pins can occur as long as any part of either wrestler remains inbounds.

In recent years, a rules change was invoked involving takedowns in that area of the mat, and the committee believes expanding the rule to include more ways to score points will enhance the sport.

“The committee wants more action on the mat, which should create more scoring,” said Jeff Swenson, committee chair and director of athletics at Augsburg. “This change will benefit the offensive wrestler.”

In addition, the committee developed a point of emphasis for referees to be quicker to call a stalemate when neither wrestler is improving position.

“This should make it simpler for referees to make the call regardless of where the wrestlers are on the mat,” Swenson said.

Reaction-time takedowns

Committee members recommended a takedown be awarded from the neutral position when a wrestler gains control by taking his opponent down to the mat. If the defensive wrestler’s hand comes in contact with the mat, it is considered control and a takedown should be awarded.

Currently, it is the referee’s judgment on whether there was a significant portion of the defensive wrestler’s weight borne on his hand/hands in order for control to be established.

The recommendation makes this call clearer for the referee.

Stalling

The committee agreed to have a separate section in the penalty table that addresses stalling and to add the disqualification back in to the sequence.

The first stalling violation results in a warning; additional violations are 1 point, 1 point, 1 point, then disqualification.

Weight management

Committee members are recommending that the Feb. 15 deadline for a wrestler to reach or descend to the lowest certified weight class be eliminated. This proposal would have to be approved by the Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports.

Wrestling Rules Committee members believe if a wrestler follows the current NCAA weight-loss plan throughout the season, there is no need for a deadline.

Under the weight-loss program, a wrestler shall not lose more than 1.5 percent of body weight per week from the weekly weigh-in while making the descent to the lowest certified weight class.