NCAA proposes tighter elbow restrictions

The NCAA is recommending tougher penalties for players who throw

elbows, and women’s teams could be experimenting with a longer

3-point line next season.

The decisions were announced Wednesday, one day after the men’s

and women’s Basketball Rules committees completed their spring

meetings. All the proposals must still be approved by the Playing

Rules Oversight Panel next month.

If the new elbow rule passes, referees would be required to call

a flagrant or intentional foul for anything more than incidental

elbow contact above the shoulders. Last season, officials had the

discretion to call either a flagrant or common foul for the

contact. Common fouls could still be called if the contact is below

the shoulders.

A flagrant foul would give the opponent two free throws and

possession of the ball. A flagrant foul would also lead to the

player’s ejection.

If approved, it would apply to both men’s and women’s


“Excessive swinging of the elbows is something both committees

felt strongly about penalizing differently,” said former Charlotte

coach Bobby Lutz, the men’s committee chairman. “We both feel we

have a significant safety concern, and there are other ways to make

a basketball play that does not include swinging or throwing an

elbow, especially above the shoulders.”

Committee members are hoping the new rule will reduce elbows, in

much the same manner tighter restrictions on fighting has affected

college basketball.

The women’s committees also recommended experimental use of the

men’s 3-point line during all exhibition games and scrimmages that

simulate a 40-minute game. The men’s line is established at 20

feet, 9 inches. The women’s arc is at 19 feet, 9 inches.

“The committee reviewed the pros and cons of moving the

three-point line back to 20 feet, 9 inches,” said committee

chairwoman Amy Backus, senior associate director of athletics at

Yale. “The data collected from all three divisions supports the

fact that more than 60 percent of three-point shots are being taken

from behind the men’s line with comparable shooting percentages.

This experimental rule will allow the committee to augment data for

future consideration.”

The committee also discussed adding the 10-second rule to the

women’s game, and a survey of coaches showed a split on whether the

rule should be changed.

For now, it will remain the same as the women’s committee

gathers more feedback.

The men’s committee is also recommending experimental use of an

arc, like that used in the NBA, making it illegal for a secondary

defender to take a charge under the basket. The arc would be 2 feet

from the center of the basket. If approved, the rule would apply to

exhibition games and multi-team tournaments next season.

Lutz said coaches want a visible line on the floor.

Both committees also want officials to call the game as it is

written in the rule book.