No Means No

Published on August 7, 2015


By:  John Van de Vaarst

There are several instances throughout the NCAA Rule Book that indicate “shall not.”  The purpose of this article is to review the major  sections that include the phrase so that when the 2015 season begins every NISOA official will be thoroughly familiar with the rules and protests will be minimized.

Rule 1

Section 1.1.1 deals with the dimensions of the field.  ”  The field of play shall be rectangular, with a length of 115-120 yards and a width of 70-75 yards.”  This is for all fields constructed after 1995.  If the field does not meet the specifications the penalty is very specific.  “The game shall not begin and the referee shall file a report with the governing sports authority.”

Section 1.6 provides the legal measurements for the penalty area.  If the penalty area is not marked, including the arc, before the game, it shall be corrected before the game begins.  “If cannot be corrected before the start of the competition, the game shall not begin and the referee shall file a report with the governing sports authority.”

Section 1.9 Goals, has specific requirements for anchoring, securing or counterweight of the goals.  The section also describes how the goal shall be placed on the field.  Portable goals must be anchored or have counterweight to prevent the goal from falling, especially forward, and causing an injury.  A goal falling forward and hitting a field player or goalkeeper can result in serious injury.   This must never happen because an official did not make sure the goal was properly anchored or counterweighted.  If an official observes a goal not meeting the requirements, he/she must have the home team correct the situation.  “If it cannot be corrected before the start of competition, the game shall not begin and the referee shall file a report with the governing sports authority. ”  Again this is a major safety issue and cannot be ignored.

Section 1.10 deals with goal nets.  Nets are to be attached to the goal posts and crossbar.  The nets are to be secured behind each goal.  Nets must also be properly secured to each post so that there are no openings.  An opening in the net near the goal post could allow a ball to pass through it.  The officials must then decide if a goal was scored or if the ball enter from outside the goal post.  Also, if a ball enters the goal and immediately passes through the hole, the officials must decide if the ball entered the goal and passed through the hole or did it miss the goal and the game restarted with a goal kick.  This creates unnecessary problems for the officiating crew.  Nets are to be inspected before the game to ensure they are properly secured.  If the home team cannot fix the problem, “the game shall not begin and the referee shall file a report with the governing sports authority.”

Rule 2

Section 2.2 Style, Shape and Material provides information on the types of material a ball can be made of as well as the number of game balls required by the home team.  “No fewer than five balls, furnished by the home team, shall be available for us in a game, and the balls shall be identical in size, make, grade and color.”  The officiating team must inspect the game balls prior to the game to ensure they meet the requirements of the rule.  If the game balls do not meet the specifications, “the game shall not begin and the referee shall file a report with the governing sports authority.”

Rule 3

Section 3.2 Game Roster, requires that an official NCAA game roster, including the names, and numbers of all players, coaches and other bench personnel be given to the referee, scorekeeper, and opposing coach.  This is to occur no later than 15 minutes before the game.  The roster provided to the referee is slightly different since cautions and ejections of each player are not to be included.  They are to be part of the other rosters though.  The referee should be proactive to make sure he/she receives the roster within the time lines provided.  If a game roster is not provided, “the game shall not begin and may result in a forfeiture by the offending team to be determined by the governing sports authority.”

Rule 4

Section 4.5 is very specific about articles.  “A player shall not wear anything that is dangerous to any player.”  Every year a player attempts to wear an item that is clearly dangerous.  The player and/or the coach state that the player wore the article in previous games.  The referee must remain steadfast and not allow the player to enter the game while wearing the article.  Certain items are legal and provided they do not become dangerous are permissible.  This includes knee braces, casts, headgear, prostheses, etc.  In certain times, the items must be padded so there are no sharp projections.  When a player is wearing these types of items the referee must inspect the article to ensure it is safe.

Section 4.6 again is very specific.  “A player shall not wear any jewelry of any type whatsoever.  Exception:  Medical alert bracelets or necklaces may be worn but must be taped to the body.  A NISOA clinician once said “what part of no don’t you understand?” when speaking about jewelry.   The rule is very clear and must be enforced.


The above represent key items in the rule book that do not allow for discretion.  The officiating team must be strong and enforce the rules.  Failure to do so could result in a protest.  Also, if someone is injured as a result of an official allowing a game to be played when there is a dangerous situation or dangerous equipment, the official could be subject to a law suit.  Remember it is every official’s job to enforce the rules as written.

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