Ask A Rules Question

Todd Abraham

Todd Abraham

C. Cliff McCrath

C. Cliff McCrath

If you have a question about or need an interpretation of  the NCAA Soccer Rules, you’ve come to the right place. Two NISOA Hall of Famers, long time NCAA Soccer Secretary-Rules Editor, C. Cliff McCrath and NISOA National Rules Interpreter (and current NISOA Senior Director of Instruction) Todd Abraham are active contributors here. Please follow the following guidelines before posting your question:

  • Read the current NCAA Soccer Rules book (available on the Forms page of our site).
  • Do not post questions regarding issues of referee judgement.
  • Do not post specific game details ( i.e. home team, match date, etc.) with your question, if your question happens to be about something you saw during an intercollegiate soccer game.
All questions are subject to editorial review. This is offered as a service to NISOA membership for educational purposes, with the expressed understanding that only the NCAA Soccer Secretary-Rules Editor (Ken Andres) can provide an official rule interpretation.

461 Responses to “Ask A Rules Question”

  1. Are there any rules regarding the amount of warm up time that must be provided to a team prior to the start of a match? For example: a team is held up in traffic and arrives to the venue late for a start time.

    • The NCAA rules do not have a pre-set time for warm-ups when teams are late. Typically, the coaches agree on a reasonable warm up. If there is a significant disagreement, player safety should be paramount and the referee should ensure the team who arrived late has adequate time so that player safety is not compromised.

  2. From the FAQ email that Ken Andres sent out….

    “How does the unsportsmanlike acts rule apply?

    Offenses for which an indirect free kick shall be awarded are: Unsporting behavior, including inappropriate language. (Rule 12.2.8)

    Any player, coach, team representative or participant listed on the official roster shall be cautioned a maximum of one yellow card per game for committing any of the following offenses: Engaging in other acts of unsporting behavior, including taunting, celebration, simulating a foul, exaggerating an injury, baiting, substituting illegally or ridiculing another player, bench personnel, officials or spectators. (Rule 12.4.5)”

    *QUESTION IS: if a player simulates and is cautioned, he/she can then taunt, celebrate, exaggerate an injury, bait, illegally substitute or ridicule another participant with no further sanction?*

    • Players can wear a different jersey at any time as long as the referee is notified and the changes are made on the roster to reflect the correct number

  3. When do players become players of record at the start of a game? Specifically, if a player is announced as starting the game (and walks onto the field during the national anthem) but is replaced by a teammate before the whistle to start the match, is the player who was announced eligible to enter the game during the first half?

    • Players become a player of record at the beginning of the game at the kickoff. NCAA rules do not require starters to be indicated prior to the kickoff. A team can determine its starting line up anytime prior to the kickoff itself. The same is true for the beginning of the second half or any overtime period.

  4. How does the post season yellow card accumulation rule pertain to a player who has previously sat for card accumulations. Specifically a player who has 7 yellows entering post season play who has sat after five, but not reached his 8th to incur his second suspension. Or a player who has 9 and has sat out both of his suspensions for 5 and 8?

    • The postseason card accumulation is based on Rule 12.8.2

      “Postseason Games. Caution accumulation will carry over into postseason play, which includes conference tournaments and the NCAA tournament. Players or coaches participating in postseason play will receive a one-game suspension when a total of eight cautions have been accumulated. Further, each two additional cautions shall result in additional one-game suspensions. Moreover, if the total is reached in the final postseason game of the season, the player(s), coach(es) or bench personnel shall not participate in the first scheduled game(s) of the next season.”

      Therefore, the suspension will occur when the player’s total reaches 8, 10, 12 accumulated cautions. Specifically, If a player has 7 cautions entering the postseason, he would be suspended when he received his next caution – his 8th for the year. The same is true for the player who enters the postseason with 9 and receives her 10th.

      Note that the threshold for the first suspension increases from 5 to 8 entering the postseason so a player who received 4 cautions during the regular season would be suspended when he reaches 8 accumulated cautions (not 5) in the postseason per A.R. 12.8.2.a. “A player finishes the regular season with a total of four cautions and proceeds to receive a caution in the first postseason game. RULING: The player now has an accumulation of five cards toward eight allowable cautions since the accumulation system allows eight for the postseason.”

  5. What is the proper restart in the following case: Team A has possession of the ball and approaches Team B. Referee stops play with whistle, Team A is awarded is direct free kick. Coach of Team A protests that the foul warranted a caution. The referee issues a caution (yellow card) to the Coach of Team A for dissent. How is play restarted?

    • Play is stopped for the direct free kick offense, so it must be restarted with a direct free kick for Team A. The caution is issued with the ball out of play so the restart is not affected. This would be true for any situation where the misconduct happens when the ball is out of play such as a throw-in, kick-off, indirect free kick, corner kick or goal kick.

  6. Is there any liability for the referee crew if a ball person is injured. Specifically a young ball person, that is selected by the host institution, that may or may not be over age 10. Rule 6.5 “recommends” that ball chasers are at least 10 years old.
    What should the referee crew do if they do not feel the ball chasers provided can safely perform their duties?

    • Safety is always paramount for all participants. During the pre-game, If the referee crew feels that the ball person cannot perform the duties required, the referee crew should note their concern to the host institution’s event management and leave the responsibility with them. During the match itself, if the ball person is not performing his/her duties, the ball person should be replaced.

    • per the NCAA rules:
      12.8.1 Regular-Season Games. Any player(s) or coach(es) who has received a total of five cautions in one season shall be suspended and shall not participate in the next regularly scheduled game, including postseason games. Three additional cautions shall result in additional one-game suspensions. Each two additional cautions shall result in additional one-game suspensions. If the total is reached in the final game of the season, the player(s), coach(es) and/or bench personnel shall not participate in the first postseason game and/or the first regularly scheduled game of the next season if his/her team does not participate in postseason play.

      Scrimmages and exhibition games (including alumni games), scheduled or unscheduled, do not qualify as games with reference to players suspended for accumulated cautions. Moreover, if the next regularly scheduled game is not played for any reason (and is later declared a forfeited game), the forfeited game shall not satisfy the game requirements for suspended players or coaches.

      If the total is reached in the final postseason game of the season, the players shall not compete in the first game of the next season. Suspended players or coaches shall serve their game suspensions in an actual contest.

  7. A foul that requires a yellow card has been committed by the defensive team during the course of play, but the head referee signals play on, due to an advantage call. When the play is over via change of possession or out of bounds or goal scored, can the referee go back and administer a yellow card to a player for the infraction that took place when he allowed the play to continue?

    • Yes, the referee can (and should) issue the yellow card. It must be issued before the next restart when there is a stoppage for a free kick or throw-in, no matter what the advantage seems to be at that point for a quick restart, the referee must issue the yellow card at that point. Once the restart has occurred, it is too late to come back for previous cautionable offenses.

  8. By rule (this would be for High School Soccer) do the players have to be on the opposite side of the field from the spectators?

    • There is no provision in the NFHS rules that require spectators be on the opposite side from the teams. Rule 1 Section 5 has a provision for teams being on the opposite side of the field and 1-6 only requires that the spectators be at least 10 feet from the touchlines, team/official area and goal line with no one being permitted directly behind the goal unless in bleachers. With this said, individual state associations may have additional requirements so please check with your state association as well

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