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Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Safety of athletes is primary concern


The NCAA rules committee passed a recommendation that coaches have been squawking about for some time: the consistency on the floor due to temporary decals and/or logos at nonconference and conference tournaments or special one-game events.

Moisture on the court has contributed to slippage (on the deck of the USS Carl Vinson for Michigan State's Branden Dawson, for instance), and for years, coaches have rightfully complained about logos at tournaments from Maui to New York in November, and around the nation during Championship Week.

"The main thing is that the entire surface has to have consistency,'' said St. Peter's coach John Dunne, who is the chair of the rules committee. "The main thing and the primary concern is that the floor remain consistent from end-to-end regardless of what's on it.''

But there was not a clear-cut recommendation in the news release sent out by the NCAA on Monday after its meeting was held in Indianapolis on May 6-8.

The recommendation to the playing rules oversight panel, which will meet via a conference call on June 12, is to ensure that all floors are in compliance. But it doesn't say temporary logos can't be used by a professional, neutral-site or school arena. The statement says that the host game management must be responsible for ensuring that it has a consistent finish.

Does that mean the Big East tournament logo will have a polyurethane coat over it for five days during Madison Square Garden's busy season?

Dunne doesn't know. And neither does the NCAA … yet.

There is a chance that the Big East tournament could still have the New York Knicks logo on the court during the tournament. And that's fine. It could be the case where the permanent logo on a particular court stays during a tournament. This means that sponsorship may have to be displayed in different forms.

"There will be a lot of discussion about how this will be implemented,'' NCAA spokesperson Cameron Schuh said. "If this is implemented, it would be for the 2012-13 season.''

Dunne said one of the items discussed was the possibility that tournaments would have to bring in their own floors for events.

"Some of these colleges, like Georgetown, share an arena with a pro team and bring in their own floor,'' Dunne said. "That's something the Big East or the ACC or others will have to look at.

"For now, the big issue is the safety of the athletes,'' Dunne said. "That supersedes everything.''

The rules committee is in a non-rules change year, which means it can only make recommendations.

Still, the committee spoke on a few major issues that it wanted to enforce.

Dunne said sportsmanship is a concern, adding that being role models, as coaches and players, should be taken seriously.

"It's not what the fans want to hear that are paying money to sit close to the floor,'' Dunne said. "We want the officials to look at prolonged negative body language without taking away from the emotion. Players and coaches have to handle themselves in a certain way, and if not, then they will get a technical.''

The committee directed the officials to look at these adjustments:
• Comments directed at or referring to any game official that question the integrity of an official (repeated references to the number of fouls called against each team; suggesting an official is "cheating" a team, etc.).
• Profane, vulgar, threatening or derogatory remarks or personal comments relating to race, ethnicity, religion, gender or sexual orientation directed at or referring to any game official or opposing player/bench personnel.
• Prolonged, negative responses to a call/no-call that are disrespectful or unprofessional and include waving or thrashing the arms in disgust, dramatizing contact by re-enacting the play, or running or jumping "in disbelief" over a call/non-call.
• A negative response to a call/non-call that includes approaching/charging an official in a hostile, aggressive or otherwise threatening manner; emphatically removing one's coat in response to a call/no-call; or throwing equipment or clothing onto the floor.
• Continual criticism during a game regarding the same incident after being warned by an official.

The committee also wanted to emphasize the block/charge call that was inconsistent in the first year of having the block/charge circle.

"There were too many charges that should have been blocks,'' Dunne said. "We don't want to do anything drastic since it's only been one year of having the rule.''

At issue is the fear that the officials are focusing too much on where the feet are and missing the contact, or lack thereof.

This is how the rules committee wants to strengthen the definition of the rule for the officials:

• Before the offensive player (with the ball) becomes airborne, the defender must have two feet on the floor, be facing the opponent and be stationary to draw a charge. Otherwise, it should be a blocking foul.
• Secondary defenders (help defenders) moving forward or to the side are also in violation, and these should be blocking fouls.
• Contact that is "through the chest" is not de facto proof of a charge. The rule in its entirety must be considered before determining a foul.
• In some cases, it appears that a defender is being rewarded solely for being outside the arc, without considering the other aspects of the rules.

Dunne said the instant-replay monitor was also discussed. Nothing was done in terms of a recommendation, but Dunne said there were discussions about voting next year on one judgment call in the final minute of the game.

"We want them to look at out-of-bounds calls, deflections, not just stepping on the line,'' Dunne said. "If it's a 50-50 ball on a deflection or a loose ball scrum, we want to make sure they get that right.''

Currently, officials can go to the monitor for flagrant fouls or for a score (2-pointer or 3-pointer) or for time and score in the final minute of the half or game (buzzer-beater).