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PROP approves rules to increase offense in ice hockey

By Greg Johnson

The Playing Rules Oversight Panel during its conference call July 19 approved proposals aimed at increasing offensive opportunities in ice hockey next season.

Among the changes is to allow some displacement of the goal posts as long as the posts remain in contact with the pegs or pins. For a goal to be awarded in these situations, the posts must have been displaced by the actions of a defending player. The referee must determine that the puck would have entered the net between the normal positions of the goal posts.

Additionally, goals that ricochet into the net off an attacking player’s skates will be allowed, unless the referee determines that the puck was intentionally kicked.

The Men’s and Women’s Ice Hockey Rules Committees have issued a number of interpretations in this area recently, and members believe this clarification removes any judgment or doubt for the on-ice officials.

Another rules change for next season is that all hand passes, including those in the defensive zone, will be illegal. The referee will stop play on any hand pass, and the faceoff will be in the offending team’s defensive zone. Additionally, if the team commits the violation in its defensive zone, that team will not be able to change players before the ensuing faceoff.

The Playing Rules Oversight Panel also approved an overtime procedure that conferences can adopt or competing teams can use by mutual consent that limits the number of players to four on each side. The National Hockey League has used this system in recent years, but the NCAA hockey community has not reached consensus on this as the best approach. A five-on-five format is the default procedure if the four-on-four approach is not used.

In a move relating to officiating, the panel approved making the two-referee, two-linesman system mandatory for men’s ice hockey effective with the 2013-14 season. Additionally, goal judges will be recommended but not required for NCAA games.

Track and field

The panel approved a rules change in pole vault competitions to require all rigid or unyielding items above ground level, or designated landing pit platform surfaces extending beyond the dimensions of the landing area, to be padded beginning in the 2012-13 academic year.

The Men’s and Women’s Track and Field Committee modified the language of the current rule so there is no ambiguity as to what type of surfaces should be covered. Since many track and field venues are used for other events, objects such as electrical boxes, concrete drainage grates and the corners of pallets where the landing mat sits should have padding.

In a continued effort to focus on pole vault safety, the NCAA, the National Federation of State High School Associations and USA Track and Field held a pole vault summit in January. Among the outcomes of that gathering was a DVD featuring proper techniques of pole vaulting. The plan is to edit the material and make the DVD required viewing for all NCAA track and field coaches and the student-athletes who compete in the event.

The track and field rules subcommittee also discussed making padding a requirement in the box collar where competitors plant their poles for a jump. The box collars are composed of hard metal, but the subcommittee is waiting for the American Society for Testing and Materials to set a standard as to placement and thickness of the padding.

The Playing Rules Oversight Panel also approved amending the assistance rule. Medical personnel are now allowed to treat a student-athlete before the end of an event as long as the athletic trainer or team doctor doesn’t help the competitor to the finish line.


The panel approved a change for the next rule book to allow softball bats with safety knobs protruding at a 90-degree angle or less from the handle. This change will allow student-athletes to use axe handle bats beginning in the 2014 season.

Women’s lacrosse

The panel approved an experimental rule allowing any defender to move through the goal circle below the goal line extended. Only the defender marking the player with the ball may remain in the goal circle below the goal line extended.

The rule, which will be allowed in the nontraditional season this fall, is designed to create more balance between offense and defense. Recent rules changes regarding attack play around the goal circle created unintended advantages for the offense.


Starting in the 2013-14 season, a student-athlete will be allowed to descend to his original certified weight by following an individual weight-loss plan, after weighing-in two or more weight classes above his original certified weight.

The online Optimal Performance Calculator system, in use since the early 2000s, streamlines the weight management process to protect wrestlers from losing weight at a dangerous rate. The OPC system tracks each wrestler’s descent plan with every weigh-in, ensuring their weight loss does not exceed more than 1.5 percent body weight per week.