Hitting a Defenseless Player Results in Automatic Ejection

March 8, 2013
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Targeting defenseless players leads to harsh penalties.

Targeting defenseless players leads to harsh penalties.

A new rule is in place where football players could automatically be ejected from the game if they contact a defenseless player above the shoulders.  Yesterday, the NCAA’s Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved this safety based rule per a recommendation by the NCAA’s Football Rules Committee.

Hitting a defenseless player comes with strict penalties to include suspension.  If a player is ejected in the first half, he will miss the remainder of the game.  If a player is ejected in the second half, he will miss the rest of the game plus the first half of the next game.  The automatic ejection also includes a 15-yard penalty.  The yardage penalty cannot be reviewed, however, the officials can review the hit for purposes of ejection which could either lead to additional penalties or a reduction in the player’s suspension.

Other rule changes include:

  • Players are allowed to block below the waist in plays that occur in front of a stationary defender during line play.
  • There will be a 10-second runoff with less than a minute left in the first and second half when the clock stops due to injury.
  • Teams are prohibited from spiking the football when there are less than three seconds remaining on the clock. Instead, the offense can run only one more play when there are one or two seconds left.
  • Replay officials may adjust the clock at the end of each quarter, not just the half.  
  • Any jersey number change that occurs during a game must be reported directly to the referee.
  • Players on the same team who play the same position are prohibited from wearing the same jersey number.
  • Jerseys must have clearly visible, permanent Arabic numerals measuring at least 8 and 10 inches in height front and back, respectively, and be of one solid color that itself is clearly in distinct contrast with the color of the jersey, irrespective of any border around the number.
  • Officiating crews may use electronic communication during games.
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