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Rules panel approves shot clock procedure in men’s lacrosse

By Greg Johnson

The Playing Rules Oversight Panel on Friday approved rules changes in men’s lacrosse, including the establishment of a shot clock procedure that replaces the sport’s stall warning.

The panel also approved changes in baseball that includes allowing umpires to change erroneous calls from a foul ball to fair in the 2013 season. Issues involving wrestling, men’s gymnastics and women’s lacrosse also were addressed.

Men’s lacrosse

In men’s lacrosse, panel members approved a proposal to adjust the stall warning procedure to include a 30-second timeframe for the offensive team to take a shot.

Membership feedback on the proposal was positive, but the Men’s Lacrosse Rules Committee and Playing Rules Oversight Panel both received questions about the use of a visible shot clock in addition to the committee’s proposed procedure, which uses the game officials to manage the count.

The panel referred this request to the rules committee for further discussion. The proposed and approved rule therefore does not allow a visible shot clock to be used.

In the new procedure, when a team is given a stall warning, a shot must be taken within 30 seconds. A valid shot is defined as an attempt to score that is on goal (for example, saved by the goalkeeper, hits the goal cage, goal scored). If the 30 seconds expires without a shot on goal, the ball will be awarded to the defensive team. The previous “get it in, keep it in” call has been removed.

Here is the protocol referees will follow:

  1. Officials signal a stall warning and start the 20-second timer.
  2. At the end of the 20-second timer, a 10-second hand count is administered by the official closest to the ball. This official has responsibility for the count until a shot is taken or the time expires.
  3. During the 30-second period, situations where a shot goes out of bounds and the offensive team maintains possession will  be handled in this manner:
  4. With more than 10 seconds remaining in the count, the timer continues to run and the procedure continues.
  5. If the timer expires before the restart, a 10-second count will be administered beginning on the restart.
  6. With less than 10 seconds remaining, the official shall hold the hand count when the whistle blows and continue the count on the restart. For example, if the ball goes out of bounds with eight seconds remaining on the count, that count continues on the restart. The official will communicate the amount of time remaining on the restart.
  7. A shot that hits the goal cage or is saved by the goalkeeper and then possessed by the offensive team nullifies the stall warning and the game continues.
  8. In a flag-down situation, the shot count will continue until it expires or a shot is taken.
  9. Stalling will not be called during a man advantage.
  10. If a shot hits a defensive team player other than the goalkeeper, it will not be considered a shot on goal.

The panel also approved a rule regarding shooting strings. Starting with the 2013 season, players will be allowed to have shooting strings up to but not touching four inches from the top of the crosse.

To ensure that all sticks meet these specifications the following three field tests will be performed by the officials.

  • The ball will be placed in crosse (perpendicular to the ground) at the throat, then the crosse is tipped forward 90 degrees;
  • The ball is placed in the crosse (horizontal to the ground) at the deepest point of the pocket, then the crosse is tipped forward 90 degrees so the ball rolls out at the tip of the head;
  • The ball is placed in the back of the crosse at the deepest point of the pocket and pushed in to reverse the pocket. The crosse is inverted 180 degrees. The ball must come out of the crosse without shaking, etc.

If the stick fails any of these tests, it is an illegal crosse and a one-minute non-releasable foul will be enforced. The crosse won’t be used during play and will be kept at the scorer’s table until the conclusion of the game.

The rules committee thought players currently are able to maintain possession of the ball too easily despite being pressured by the defense.

Foul-to-fair calls in baseball

For the umpires to conference in this scenario, the ball must have passed first or third base, be beyond the first or third baseman and originally been called foul. If the call is overturned, it will be up to the umpire crew chief to determine where to place all base runners on the play.

Umpires are currently allowed to conference on several specific types of plays. This new rule is an expansion of the “Getting the Call Right” provisions already in the rules book.

The foul-to-fair call is also one of the plays added to the instant replay experimental rule at the Men’s College World Series. Last year, the committee permitted experimental instant replay reviews at the MCWS on the following:

  • Deciding if an apparent home run is fair or foul. 
  • Deciding whether a batted ball left the playing field for a home run or a ground-rule double.
  • Spectator-interference plays (only on plays involving home run balls).

There were no instant replay reviews during the 2012 MCWS.

Panel members also approved a rule in baseball that calls for all non-head coaching team personnel who are ejected for disputing an umpire’s call to receive a one-game suspension for the first ejection of the season and a three-game suspension for any subsequent ejections during the season.

The Baseball Rules Committee tracked the number of ejections during the 2012 season, and more than 600 combined ejections were reported in all three divisions. Of those ejections, more than half were either assistant coaches or players. This rule will not affect other ejections (for example, tobacco use).

The NCAA Baseball Rules Book states that only head coaches can approach umpires to discuss a call.

Mat-side video review in wrestling

Panel members also approved an experimental rule in wrestling to allow mat-side video review during the 2012-13 season, excluding open tournaments.

Designation of the official mat-side video review system will be determined by the host institution before the beginning of competition.

The host will also determine the number of mats and the rounds the mat-side video review system will be used. If the mat-side video review will be used, the host must provide notification to participating coaches no later than weigh-ins.

Mat-side video review may be used to confirm or reverse on-the-mat decisions, except a fall.

The mat-side video review process will operate under the assumption that the ruling on the mat is correct, and only when there is indisputable video evidence that a ruling was incorrect, will a call be changed. Absent that evidence, the original ruling will stand.

Each team will be allowed one coach’s challenge per dual meet, including team advancement tournaments, to be used at the coach’s discretion.

Each team in an individual advancement tournament, excluding open tournaments, will be allowed three challenges to be used at the coach’s discretion. If a coach’s challenge is successful, the team will retain that challenge.

A coach may ask the referee to stop the match for a challenge by approaching the scorer’s table when there is no significant action and requesting that the match be stopped.

Men’s gymnastics modifications

Panel members referred two modifications back to the Men’s Gymnastics Committee.

The first deals with the protocol to be used depending on the number of judges at the meet.

In meets with two judges per event, both will judge star value and the performance score.

Under the modification, the use of a three-judge panel has been eliminated. Panel members want to know more specifics as to why a three-judge system is unacceptable.

If four judges are used, as is the case at the NCAA Men’s Gymnastics Championships, two judges determine the start value, and all four determine performance score. The average of the middle two scores is added to the start value to determine the final score.

In the case of six judges at the individual event finals, two judges determine the start value, and all six judges give a performance score. The high and low scores will be thrown out, and the average of the four middle scores is the final determinant.

The other modification sent back to the committee regards the number of participating gymnasts who compete for a team. The committee recommended that after the Winter Cup, five gymnasts may perform per event, with all five scores counting towards the team score. Previously, teams had six gymnasts perform in each event, but only the top four scores counted in team competition.

Earlier this month, the Division I Championships/Sports Management Cabinet approved the modified scoring procedure for the National Collegiate Men’s Gymnastics Championships. However, the Playing Rules Oversight Panel wants the gymnastics committee to revisit the policy as it applies to regular-season competition.

Women’s lacrosse

Beginning with the 2014 season, the ball in women’s lacrosse must meet the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment lacrosse ball standard.