Wheelhouse: Proposed NCAA Rule Changes


It happens every year. The NCAA looks at the rules of Men’s Lacrosse and proposes some possible changes. This year, they did an OK job, minus one glaring omission which I’ll get into later. And if you know me, you know exactly where we’re headed on that one. One of the other proposed changes needs much more guidance than what is supplied.

The NCAA proposed simplifying the clock on advancing the ball by advocating for a single 30 second count upon a team’s gaining of possession instead of the current 20 seconds to cross midfield and then 10 more seconds to get it in the box. This also removes the 10 second count to get the ball back in the box, and while this eliminates the toe-tapping of the corner of the box, it also allows teams to spread the field much more and leaves too much up to the discretion of the refs.

I don’t mean this as a slight to the officials, but enough of them still seem to struggle employing the stall system effectively that adding an almost constant element of watching for the stall may be too much.  Or I’m not giving them enough credit and it will just force them to focus on it more and then it will be a great change.  For now, I’m pretty doubtful.  At the Division 1 level, I’m not too worried but at the D3 level, it could become a recurring problem because you have guys who never played reffing games and sometimes they don’t understand the flow of the game – so constantly managing it seems like a rather tall order.

The NCAA proposes that refs can now say “get it in” and that it will mean something. How long do they have after you say it? 2 seconds? 10? Enough time to dodge? I need more info and refs have enough to watch already. Refs also own buzzers with 10 and 20 second clocks on them already. Let’s leave this one alone for now.

The proposed rule change also emphasizes getting the ball out quickly when it is clamped during a face off.  This seems like a good change in that the tie ups, while skillful, are also pretty boring.  Get it out and get on with the game.  If this reduces fogo-ism at all, I’m cool with it.  Specialization has gone too far.  But I digress… really, I would need to see this in action to feel one way or another about it.  Ambivalent, which means the change is probably pretty meaningless.

The NCAA also wants to tack on extra minutes to penalties for headshots and hits to the neck. Sounds good to me. These are college kids so they need their brains to work. Let’s protect them. There is plenty of time to get your bell rung during summer ball. And after watching Billy Bitter get destroyed up high (and knowing the NCAA values scoring, not hitting) I’m not at all surprised to see this rule change proposed.

They missed out on my big pet peeve: thumbing. They should have either clarified the rule on touching the plastic with your glove or told refs to enforce it. Or just remove it from the rule book and let guys thumb the ball. I guess that’d be alright since it definitely takes skill. Max Quinzani wasn’t good because he thumbed the ball. He was good because he was just really talented AND he thumbed the ball. The question is, does the NCAA want it in the game?

About the Author: Connor is a life-long lacrosse player who doesn’t know when to give up on the game. He played and coached at Wesleyan University and now plays for the Southampton LC in NYC. Connor lives with his fiance in Brooklyn and thanks her for allowing him to keep the dream alive.

Contact him at connor@lacrosseallstars.com.


  1. How does the rule about face-offs make any sense? How are players supposed to “get the ball out quicker” if they tie up and neither has full control of the ball? The rule is ridiculous and will simply result in obscure calls by the officials–basically we'll have a ref flipping a coin to determine which of the two face-off guys to call for withholding, when in reality they're both just trying to legally gain control of the ball so that they CAN pull it out.

    • that was pretty much what I was thinking… you just said it much more coherently!!!

      I don't see what it will do for the game and much like the stall call, don't know if it is something we need to leave up to the ref's discretion. Discretion calls are iffy at best, because they immediately take the game out of the players' hands and put it into those of an observer, which is problematic.