By: John Van de Vaarst, NISOA National Clinician
The NCAA Secretary Rules Editor is responsible for adjudicating all protests that are filed. Rule 10.9 indicates that “a protest may be filed by an authorized representative of an involved institution or governing sports authority providing it relates to the misapplication of a rule of conduct that clearly has a direct impact on: (1) the outcome of the game; or (2) participant eligibility.” The rule also indicates that “if the protest involves a possible scorekeeper error, the referee and authorized representatives of the teams shall confer and make a determination based upon the available information at the game site.” An inaccurate game report could and more than likely lead to a protest.
Referees have the responsibility and the duty as indicated in Rule 5.5.2 in “reviewing and signing the official NCAA box score to ensure the score, cards and disciplinary actions are accurately recorded.” The referee is not only to review the uniform numbers of the players cautioned but ensure that the reason for the caution and/or ejection is accurate in the box score. For example, if a player is ejected for dissent, the incident can be protested. Dissent is only a caution. Another example would be if the scorekeeper listed an ejection as incidental language; again this is a caution. If the player was ejected it should be for foul or abusive language. The referee must verify what was entered for accuracy. Rule 5.5.2 also indicates that “for all ejections, the referee shall electronically complete and file the appropriate form(s) located on the NCAA Soccer Central Hub website within 24 hours of completion of the game.” This requirement is also listed in Rule 12.3 Ejections. Failure to submit a report could lead to an ineligible player participating in the next game when he/she should be suspended. Cautions do not require game reports. However, any caution must be properly entered into the box score. Cautions in intercollegiate games accumulate and “any player receiving a total of five cautions in one season shall be suspended and shall not participate in the next regularly scheduled game, including postseason games.” If the caution is not reported, the player may participate in a game in which he/she should have been suspended. This could lead to all types of problems for the referee and the teams involved.
Fighting must be reported as such since any player, coach or bench personnel involved in a fight will be suspended for two games for the first offense. If a player, coach or bench personnel is involved in a second fight they shall not complete for the remainder of the season, including postseason games. Fighting must be reported on the proper NCAA form found on the aforementioned web site. Fighting is defined in Rule 12.6 “a fight is defined as a deliberate strike or punch or an attempt to strike or punch another player, official, coach or bench personnel. The acts include, but are not limited to, kicking, head-butting, hair pulling or an open-handed strike if done deliberately and in a malicious manner.” One slap equates to a fight and must be reported accordingly. A referee does not have the discretion to reduce the penalty. When a referee observes a fighting situation, the game and clock is to be stopped and the player(s) coach or bench personnel shall be ejected and the referee must inform the scorekeeper to record the ejection as a fight. Subsequent to the game the referee must verify the box score and ensure the right player numbers were reported or the coach involved was properly identified.
If a fight occurs and the referee failed to report it as such or the box score was improper, a protest can be filed. If a player who should have been suspended for a fight participates in a game, a protest can be filed. It is imperative that the referee makes sure the box score is accurate and the proper forms are submitted in a timely manner.
Rule 12.13 deals with an assault on a referee. This includes “physical contact with the game officials or any threat of physical intimidation or harm, including pushing, shoving, spitting, kicking, throwing at or attempting to make physical contact.” If a member of a referee team is assaulted, the referee “shall inform the player(s), the head coach(s) and the official scorekeeper, who shall record on the official NCAA box score form that an ejection for referee assault has been issued.” The first offense for this type of situation is a three-game suspension. The referee is to complete the Referee Assault Form on the web site within 24 hours of the incident. It is imperative that all steps be taken to prevent a protest.
In summary, game reporting must be done accurately, timely and completely. Failure to do so could lead to a protest and additional problems for the referee involved.