NCAA reverses ruling, says motorcycle grip will remain legal on faceoffs

A little over a month after its proposal to outlaw the motorcycle grip in men's lacrosse came under a firestorm of criticism, the NCAA announced Thursday that the grip will remain legal while also giving updates on other proposals.

The next step in the process is a review by the Playing Rules Oversight Panel (PROP). The weeks since the original proposal last month have been what Rules Committee chairman Jon Hind described as the “reconsideration and consideration” phase, accepting feedback from those affected by the new proposalsand considering changes before submitting to PROP.

“Many of our coaches voiced concern that removing this grip would basically eliminate some student-athletes from the game,” Hind, athletic director at Hamilton, said in a press release. “Ultimately, we are trying to have fair faceoffs, and with the point of emphasis, we think that will help. This is an example of the rules process working, and we appreciate the membership feedback.”

A proposal regarding shooting strings also was adjusted slightly after more research was conducted. The committee extended the allowable area to have shooting strings up to, but not touching, four inches from the top of the crosse. The initial proposal called for a 3 1/2-inch limit. A proposal to experiment in fall practices with moving the faceoff players farther apart was rescinded. While the committee continues to be interested in experimenting with this aspect of the faceoff, there was some concern that this experiment might have an unintended result.

Faceoff specialists have voiced opposition to the proposals, including a group that made an online petition against the banning of the moto grip. In its original ruling against the grip, the NCAA committee was concerned that this approach to the faceoff seemed to allow some players to use unfair tactics and gain an advantage. After hearing numerous comments from the membership, though, the committee voted to allow this style but also approved a point of emphasis to focus on illegal tactics, particularly touching the opponent’s crosse with any part of the body.

PROP meets Sept. 21 by conference call. PROP has a narrower charge and a specific set of criteria in which it acts to approve or deny proposals — some have described it as a formality, though Hind's characterization of the group is not that extreme. 

"They will look at the proposed changes closely with respect to their charge," Hind said. "Their charge is to look at potential safety concerns, financial impact or negative impact on the image or integrity of the game. If they view any of the proposed changes we've made in light of those three initiatives, or if the feedback from the various constituents raise concern in those three areas, my sense is they would act against our proposals.”

The committee also discussed and clarified the proposed penalty enhancements relating to repeated faceoff violations:

  • The committee noted that the new rule calling for a penalty after three violations on the same team per half applies to both pre- and post-whistle faceoff violations.
  • The committee clarified that on the third and any subsequent violation, the in-home would be the player to serve the penalty. Finally, violations by the wing players before or during the faceoff will count toward the three per half.

Perhaps the largest change the committee made — adding a shot clock procedure when a team is warned for stalling — earned the most membership support.

The committee did clarify procedures that relate to the calling of team timeouts, however. If the offensive team calls a timeout when the shot clock is engaged, the team will be granted the timeout. If there are more than 10 seconds remaining in the count, the shot clock will be moved to 10 seconds on the restart. If there are fewer than than 10 seconds, the count will continue from the point where it was stopped at the timeout.

If the defensive team calls timeout, the shot clock will be reset to 30 seconds on the restart.

The committee clarified wording for its rule relating to contact to the head, removing any reference to a deliberate action being required for this foul to be enforced.

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