The NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Rules Committee recommended several changes to its stalling rules and faceoff tactics Thursday.
The committee, which met Aug. 12-14 in Indianapolis, recommended a visible clock be used to time the 30-second stalling segment in facilities capable of displaying the clocks. That change would take effect in spring 2015.
It also recommended that two clocks be used at either end of the field; the use of one clock, however, will still be allowed. When one clock is used, it should be located midfield opposite the benches and elevated if possible, the committee recommends.
All Division I men’s lacrosse programs will be required to have the clocks displayed by the 2016 season, and Division II and Division III will be required to have visible clocks by the 2017 season.
All rules proposals must be approved by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel, which will discuss the men’s lacrosse rules proposals Sept. 10.
If the proposals are approved and a facility is not capable of displaying a separate clock or clocks when a stall warning is called, officials will use the game clock to manage the 30-second countdown for the offensive team to take a shot on goal.
If the offense does not take a shot on goal before the 30-second countdown expires, officials will award possession to the other team. If the committee’s recommendation is approved, officials would no longer use a 20-second timer and make a hand count in the final 10 seconds of the stall procedure. Additionally, the 30-second period would start and stop in sync with the game clock.
“A visible clock will enable everyone to see the start and stop of the clock when stalling is called,” said Jon Hind, committee chair and director of athletics at Hamilton College in New York. “We continue to refine and improve the methods used to deter teams from stalling.”
Shot clock discussion
Committee members also discussed the possibility of recommending a shot clock on every possession throughout the game.
The committee broke into small groups and reviewed potential impacts on the game. Ultimately, the committee did not support using a shot clock on every possession because of the following concerns:
- The impact on pace of play. The committee believes shot clocks on every possession could lead to more deliberate play and longer possessions.
- Defensive approach. The committee believes shot clocks on every possession would lead to more frequent use of zone defenses, which would considerably impact pace of play.
- Substitutions. Committee members were concerned teams might be more deliberate with substitutions and hold the ball until the last few segments of a shot clock.
- Style of Play. A significantly positive aspect of NCAA men’s lacrosse is the variety of approaches to style of play. Committee members expressed concern that this creativity and unpredictability would be reduced with a shot clock.
- Data. In reviewing available data, stall procedure calls occur roughly two times per game. Changing to a shot clock on every possession would significantly alter the game.
The committee also recommended tweaks to the lacrosse faceoff rules.
Under the proposal, a violation would be called if a player picks up or carries the ball on the back of his stick. It would still be legal to clamp the ball with the back of the stick, but the ball must be moved, raked or directed immediately.
“Picking up and carrying the ball on the back of the stick is contrary to the intent of the faceoff,” Hind said. “Faceoffs continue to be an important part of the game, but the committee feels that some of the current tactics being used are contrary to the spirit of the rule.”
It would also be illegal to use a body part (forearm, elbow, head, etc.) to initiate contact with an opponent’s stick. It remains illegal to kick or step on an opponent’s stick.
If the faceoff changes are approved, the protocol will also change slightly to the following process:
- The official will direct the players to come together and put their sticks on the ground opposite each other;
- The official will place the ball on the ground and say “set”; and
- The official will step away and blow the whistle to start play.
Committee members recommended a small change to dead ball timeouts in which the restart will be in the field of play. In these instances, only the team in possession or entitled to possession is allowed to call timeout.
“The committee feels it is important to give the offense the opportunity to create transitional play,” Hind said.
Either team may continue to call timeout during all other dead ball situations.
- Change to allowing goals/stall procedure to be satisfied on the release of the ball instead of the ball crossing the plane of the goal line.
- In plays around the crease, if a player releases the ball before landing in the crease, the goal shall count, provided his feet are grounded.
- When the ball returns to the defensive half after the offensive team has cleared the ball (other than a deflection or rebounded shot), this will result in a turnover and quick restart instead of a stall procedure or clearing clock. Defensive players may bat the ball to keep it in the offensive half, but if a defender possesses the ball from the defensive half, it is a violation.
- By the 2016 season, all uniform numbers must clearly contrast the color of the uniform. A white or light-colored uniform must have dark colored numbers; a dark-colored uniform must have light-colored number.
- Bob Scalise, athletics director at Harvard University, was recommended as the new chair of the committee.