Looking to increase the pace of play in the sport, the NCAA men's lacrosse rules committee has recommended a 30-second countdown for teams to take a shot after the referee has issued a stall warning.
The proposal follows growing criticism that stalling tactics – such as those employed by Maryland in runs to the national title game the past two seasons – are stunting the growth of the game and turning away potential fans.
The 30-second rule -- as well as other wide-ranging recommendations by the committee, which met Monday to Thursday in Indianapolis -- must be approved by the Playing Rules Oversight Panel; the group is scheduled to meet via conference call in September. If approved, the changes would be effective for the 2013 season.
Under the proposal, when a team is given a stall warning, a shot must be taken within 30 seconds. The count will be administered by the on-field officials, and there will not be a visible clock. If the 30 seconds expire without a shot on goal, the ball will be awarded to the defensive team. The rule forcing a team, once a stall warning has been issued, to keep the ball in the restraining box or lose possession would be eliminated.
Stalling will not be called during a man advantage. If a shot hits a defensive team player other than the goalkeeper, it will not be considered a shot on goal.
The committee had several lengthy discussions regarding pace of play, which included adding a shot clock.
"We did put in some components of counting but did not feel a mandated count on each possession was in the best interest of the college game," said Jon Hind, chairman of the committee and athletics director at Hamilton. "By creating this procedure, it puts a timing component into the game, but only when it is necessary."
The committee also is proposing changes that restrict the use of shooting strings or laces to create a U- or V-shaped pocket on sticks.
"Players are going through the opposition and almost look invincible when carrying the ball," Hind said. "There is a safety component to this, because it can lead to more physical play to dislodge the ball. It's not that we don't want a player to carry the ball, but we want him to move the ball too.
Another proposed change focuses on quicker restarts.
Officials are instructed to restart play quickly. If an opposing player is within 5 yards of the player that has been awarded the ball, the official will blow the whistle to start play.
Officials are also instructed to get the ball in play quickly and not be as deliberate with the exact location of the violation. Additionally, the goalkeeper is no longer given a five-second grace period to return to the crease regardless of where the ball is restarted.
There is an exception to the quick-restart rule when the offensive team is awarded the ball in the attack area. In these instances, play will be restarted anywhere outside of the attack area. The offensive team is responsible for moving the ball outside of the attack area for the restart.
The committee also made several recommendations in regard to faceoffs:
• Players taking the faceoff are not allowed to use a motorcycle grip.
• After two pre-whistle violations in one half by a team, subsequent violations result in a 30-second technical penalty.
• When a violation occurs, the faceoff player is no longer required to leave the field.
• During penalty situations, there must be four players in the defensive area and three players in the offensive area. Exception: When a team has three or more players in the penalty area, a player may come out of its defensive area to take the faceoff.
• Tape may not be added to the throat of the crosse of the player taking a faceoff.
• Most substitutions are to be made on the fly. The horn signaling substitutions will no longer exist. Additionally, the committee voted to expand the substitution box from 10 to 20 yards. The dimension of the team bench area remains the same.
• If the ball returns to the defensive half of the field and the offensive team regains possession, officials shall start the 30-second shot procedure.
• Points of emphasis focused on unsportsmanlike conduct/sideline behavior.