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Rule Changes Proposed For Men's NCAA Side With Shorter Course, Shot Clock

The NCAA rules subcommittee met in early January to discuss rule changes for the men's side of the game. The proposals were to shortened the course from a 30-meter course to a 25-meter course and have the shot clock changed from 35 seconds to 30 seconds. The reason to make these changes is to allow more scoring for the game:

"In our previous committee meetings, there was a sentiment from our constituencies that we should look at things that could potentially increase offensive action," said chair Tom Whittemore, the coach at Redlands. "By creating more possessions, these rules changes can potentially do that."

The 30-second shot clock lines up with high school and FINA rules and is another smart move to make the rules more universal across all levels of play. The shortened course makes sense if they want to increase offense, because with the longer course a lot of times teams use maybe eight to 10 seconds of the shot clock before offenses can get set. Then have very little time to get into their sets and sometimes the games are just a lot of swimming with little set offensive action.

The move also levels the playing field because there are some schools particularly out east who have pools that are 25 yards and are not able to practice in an official sized pool, and this potential move will allow those teams to play in a closer version of an official field. Swimming stamina may seem less important and there will be critics of that, but what I think it does is allows for better play over a longer period time. Teams will substitute less and players can be fresh longer.

The shortened shot clock will keep the game moving and not allow the game to turn into a wrestling match at the two-meter position with a 35 second shot clock. There will be more movement and an emphasis on moving the ball up the court quickly, so these to possible rule changes go hand in hand.

The other move is the way yellow cards can be issued. In the past yellow card were not issued to players in the water -- weird I know -- and referees had to stop play in the past to issue a yellow card. The interpretation per official was different because some would stop right away and others would allow for a more suitable time to issue the yellow card as to not give the offending team an advantage by stopping play. Confusion would occur when yellow cards were issued after the fact so fans and coaches may not know what the card was for.

Now, officials can issue yellow cards to players in the pool, the bench and the coach, and without stopping play. This will allow fans and coaches to know there is a warning issued and for who at the proper time without disrupting play. There are enough rules and whistles in the game, so anything making the game easier for people to watch is a good move.

These moves are not yet official since there still needs to be a vote to approve the moves, and there was a Feb. 21 conference call with the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel to vote on the rules changes that would go into effect for the 2012-13 academic year. As of now there is no news about the results of these proposals.

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