NCAA’s Football Rules Committee Seeks to Punish Chronic Headhunters

Apr 12, 2019

The NCAA Football Rules Committee met last month in Indianapolis and recommended two adjustments to its targeting rules, one of which is designed to punish those who fail to clean up their behavior.
The committee, chaired by Stanford coach David Shaw, proposed a progressive penalty that would cause those football players who receive a second targeting foul in the same season to not only be disqualified from that game, but also be suspended for the team’s next contest.
The second adjustment to the targeting rule deals with the instant replay review. Instant replay officials will be directed to examine all aspects of the play and confirm the foul when all elements of targeting are present. If any element of targeting cannot be confirmed, then the replay official will overturn the targeting foul. There will not be an option for letting the call on the field stand during a targeting review.
“The progressive penalty is to ensure that a player re-evaluates his technique, with coaching staff support, after he receives a targeting foul,” said Steve Shaw, NCAA secretary-rules editor. “Additionally, the instant replay review changes will ensure that when a player is disqualified, it is clearly warranted.”
Before taking effect, the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel must review and approve the committee’s proposals. A membership comment period will be conducted to collect feedback for committee consideration. PROP is scheduled to review these proposals April 17. The proposals will be shared with the NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports, which will be invited to comment.
It was also reported that there was an extensive discussion by the committee about how to treat targeting fouls, including the possibility of a two-tiered system, where a more violent targeting offense would be penalized more harshly. Instead, the committee opted for the additional ejection and more stringent replay confirmation standards.
“I don’t see it as a compromise so much as I see it as another way to reach the same goal,” committee chairman David Shaw said in a conference call. “We want the discipline to be severe for helmet-to-helmet contact, but we also want it to be right. That was kind of the idea of the two-tiered system, which was, ‘OK, if it’s a violent hit, but it’s not helmet-to-helmet, it’s not technically targeting, then we will take off the ejection.’”


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