College football delays in-game technology implementation again

College football technology
Kent Nishimura

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College football coaches won’t be able to use video or electronic devices during games for the forseeable future.

The NCAA Football Rules Committee has voted to rescind a proposal that would have permitted such technology in press boxes and locker rooms beginning in 2017.

The Oct. 17 decision came as the result of feedback from the football community and several conference administrators to reconsider the proposal, and it was made to “allow a broad discussion to take place with regard to technology and how it impacts game competition,” according to the committee’s memo to NCAA football head coaches, conference commissioners and coordinators of officials.

The decision to rescind was approved by the Playing Rules Oversight Panel, and it came six months after the panel had approved a rules committee vote to delay implementation of the rule change to 2017.

Originally, the panel had approved the use of technology to begin in the 2016 season. The rule change was then pushed back because, according to the NCAA, “more time was needed to develop guidelines that would allow for consistent application of the rule, help manage the costs and to provide time to see if any unintended consequences develop.”

As it stands, NCAA football coaches cannot use video to make in-game adjustments. Even if the rule had been implemented, electronic devices for coaching would still not be allowed on the sidelines, in the team area or on the field.

The NCAA is behind on in-game technology usage. The NFL began permitting coaches to use Microsoft Surface tablets on the sidelines in the 2014 season. NFL play-callers have been able to talk to quarterback’s through their helmets since 1994.

Still, some schools may be thankful for the NCAA rescinding the rule change, as they might not have the money to allocate for new technology and infrastructure. The home institution was to have been responsible for ensuring identical video and Internet connectivity in the coaches’ booths of both teams. But if and when the new technology rule passes, it has the potential to widen the gap between the already wealthy and established schools and the smaller colleges with less funding for athletics.

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