NCAA 2015-2016 Rule Changes

May 21, 2015
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These changes are designed to improve pace of play, better balance offense with defense, and reduce physicality

The NCAA Men’s Basketball Rules Committee approved a package of proposals and officiating directives to significantly improve the pace of play, better balance offense with defense and reduce the physicality in the sport.

During its meetings, the committee caucused with the National Association of Basketball Coaches Board of Directors, Division I Men’s Basketball Committee and several other key stakeholders.

“The committee has taken significant steps to reverse the trends in the sport that are concerning to the men’s college basketball world,” said Rick Byrd, chair of the committee and men’s basketball coach at Belmont University. “We have spent the past year collecting data, opinions and considering proposals that will help our game. Our anticipation is that dedicated officiating enforcement, along with this package of changes, will help balance the offense and defense in our game.”

The recommendations must be approved by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel, which is scheduled to discuss the recommended men’s basketball rules changes via conference call June 8, 2015.

The committee made a similar directive before the 2013-14 season, and it felt the changes improved the game. For a variety of reasons, after gaining some positive traction, the balance between offense and defense again tilted toward the defense. Scoring in Division I men’s basketball dipped to 67.6 points a game last season, which neared historic lows for the sport.

“Although the reduction in the shot clock to help increase scoring seemed to be the most discussed topic, the increase in the physicality of play has been a major concern for coaches. The NCAA rules committee has addressed that this week with an emphasis on perimeter defense and post play,” said Ron Hunter, president of the National Association of Basketball Coaches and men’s basketball coach at Georgia State University.

The committee, which met May 12-15 in Indianapolis, agreed reducing the physicality is the most critical need to encourage a more open style of play and improve the game.

The key areas the committee will focus on in the upcoming season are:

  • Perimeter defense, particularly on the dribbler and strictly enforcing the directives put in the book before the 2013-14 season.
  • Physicality in post play.
  • Screening, particularly moving screens and requiring that the screener be stationary.
  • Block/charge plays.
  • Allowing greater freedom of movement for players without the ball.

As it did in the 2013-14 season, the committee is formalizing in the rulebook several officiating guidelines dealing with screening and post play, making those items fouls and not just guidelines.

“We had some success with perimeter defense and believe upgrading these guidelines to be clear rules will significantly impact enforcement,” Byrd said. “Without question, this will require an adjustment period for everyone in the game and it is likely to be difficult at times. If we strictly enforce these rules consistently, we believe players and coaches will adjust and the game will be much better in the future.”

Restricted-area arc

To continue the focus on reducing the number of collisions at the basket, the committee approved the expansion of the restricted area arc from the current 3 feet to 4 feet. This arc would be effective in 2015-16 for Division I and 2016-17 for Divisions II and III.

Games in the 2015 Postseason NIT were played with the 4-foot arc on an experimental basis.

When compared to the 2013 NIT (which had the same block/charge standards as the 2015 event), the number of block/charge plays decreased from 2.77 to 1.96. The restricted-area arc rule was put in college basketball to reduce the number of collisions around the rim.

Pace of Play

With an eye on reducing inaction and improving pace of play, the committee approved several proposals. The most significant of the changes is to reduce the shot clock to 30 seconds. The shot clock period was last reduced for the 1993-94 season when the clock was reduced from 45 seconds to 35.

The committee also voted to remove one team timeout in the second half and strictly focus on resuming play more quickly after a timeout, which would now include a delay of game warning when a team does not comply and a one-shot technical foul on subsequent violations.

“Overall, there is a belief that finding ways to improve the pace of play is needed,” Byrd said. “This is one way to help accomplish that goal.”

The rest of the package to improve the pace of play includes:

  • Adjusting the media timeout procedures to allow a timeout called within 30 seconds of a break (e.g., 16:30) or at any time after the scheduled media timeout becomes the media timeout.
  • Removing the ability for a coach to call timeout when the ball is live.
  • Allowing only a total of 10 seconds to advance the ball to the front court (with a few exceptions).
  • Reducing the amount of time available to replace a disqualified player.

“Another concern has been the flow of the game and the amount of stoppages in play,” Hunter said. “The elimination of a 30-second timeout in the second half as well as the possibility of a technical foul for any unnecessary delays should help in that area.”

Faking Fouls

The committee discussed the growing issue of players attempting to draw fouls by deceiving officials. The committee proposed a rule that would allow officials to penalize faking fouls during the use of video to review a possible flagrant foul.

Other Changes

Other proposals approved by the committee include:

  • Allowing officials to use the monitor to review a potential shot clock violation on made field goals throughout the entire game.
  • Making Class B technical fouls (e.g., hanging on the rim, delaying the resumption of play, etc.) one-shot technical fouls. Two shots are now granted for these types of technical fouls.
  • Eliminating the five-second closely guarded rule while dribbling the ball.
  • Removing the prohibition on dunking in pregame warmups.

Experimental rule

The committee discussed its rules and potential options with the number of fouls and other considerations at length. The committee has approved experimentation to add one foul per player for the 2016 postseason and will investigate.