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Syracuse Lacrosse: NCAA releases new rule recommendations

The NCAA sent everyone into a tailspin on Monday night by releasing its new rule recommendations for the 2017 season. The Committee also recommended that programs experiment with a two-point goal in fallball.

2013 NCAA Division I Men's Lacrosse Championship - Syracuse v Duke Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

The NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Rules Committee met last week to discuss potential changes to the men’s rulebook. The Committee recommended two rule changes, which if approved by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel (PROP) on September 13, would take effect starting in the 2017 season. While only two recommendations were made, the NCAA release does mention that other issues including safety, stalls, and dives were examined.



The Committee is recommending a change to the faceoff procedure, wherein the referee will now set the ball five inches from each player’s stick and in the middle of the head. This is really just a clarification for the referees so that all of the faceoffs are more consistent.

Terry Foy had some clarification from the NCAA:


The rule currently states that once a team gains possession, that team must advance the ball into the box within 30 seconds. This rule has several exceptions, one of which being unless the officials stop play for any reason. Therefore, under the current rules, calling a timeout satisfies the 30 second rule. The Committee is recommending that this timeout loophole be eliminated.


The Committee also recommended that several experimental rules be toyed with during fallball. These would still need to be approved by PROP before being used in any fallball events.


The Committee recommended testing out a two-point goal if a team scores within 30 seconds of gaining possession. If a team gains possession, calls a timeout, and then comes out of that timeout and scores, all within that 30 second period, it would only count for one-point (basically a timeout extinguishes any two-point opportunity).

Restricted Offensive Area:

If a team moves the ball into a specified attacking area, that team could not move the ball out of that area. The Committee did not specify what that attacking area might be, though it did mention, the box, some sort of arc in the middle of the field, and an extended attack area as options.

Smaller Substitution Box:

Currently each team’s substitution box is 10 yards wide, and the Committee is recommending that a change to a five yard long substitution box be experimented with.

On-Field Communication Devices for Officials:

The Committee is recommending that headsets for officials be explored.


Obviously, lacrosse Twitter went a little wild on Monday night. Here’s a smattering of the reaction:

Former Syracuse Orange Kevin Rice added his two cents, taking a stance that I believe most offensive players would agree with:

I’m not a soccer fan, but I have a lot of friends who are. Last weekend, I sat laid down and watched went in and out of napping during an EPL game. I never watch soccer, but what was crazy was that I watched that game and I knew what was going on. One of the greatest things about the sport of soccer is its rules, or more so, its lack of rules, which is certainly something that has helped the sport gain viewership so quickly in this county. Compare the simplicity of soccer to the NFL. I couldn’t explain to anyone what a catch is anymore due to the complexity of the rules. How does that benefit the game? Simple answer is that it doesn’t. It’s one thing to have a complex rulebook for a game as popular as football, but to add complexity to a game as small in popularity as lacrosse, it creates increased barriers for new fans to get into it.

Good Stuff

I think the Committee’s recommendation to close the loophole on the 30 second clear is a positive step. It’s a reasonable move to prevent a team holding the lead from draining the clock towards the end of the game.

Smaller substitution boxes is an interesting wrinkle. The point is to create more fast-break opportunities, and this is a way to try and do that naturally in the game without adding new rules. I’m all for experimenting with this.

I don’t think the recommended faceoff rule will impact the game. To me it seems that this is simply a clarification for the officials in order to make faceoffs more standardized across the board.

The Craziness

No disrespect to the MLL, because I think it’s a great league, but I believe the two-point goal is a distortion of the sport, and, in my opinion, has no place in the college game. I’m a traditionalist, I like watching plays develop and I enjoy seeing players get creative with the ball, both of which takes time. This recommendation is an effort to speed up the game and cause teams to be quicker to pull the trigger on shots. It’s a way to reward speed and while it certainly could create faster play, we may just end up seeing more forced shots and unintelligent offensive play. Why is a shot that misses cage or gets blocked or deflected something to be valued? I can’t comprehend why anyone would want to trade quality offensive play for a faster, sloppier game. If you are a fan of quality lacrosse, you should not be a fan of this rule. Not to mention that it would add one more complexity to an already complicated game for the fans and officials.

If you want to create a two-pointer then add a two-pointer. Draw a line in an arc around the crease and make it blatantly clear, like the MLL does. I won’t like it, but it would certainly be better than this time sensitive two-pointer that’s being recommended for testing in fallball games.

I feel the same way about the restricted offensive area as I do the two-point shot, it’s not necessary. It will create more forced shots, and could actually cause teams to be more cautious about advancing the ball into the interior. And again, it is just another rule to explain to incoming fans.

You know how we can increase the pace of play and avoid overcomplicated rules? Add a 60 second shot clock and eliminate the 30 second rule. Not something I’m in favor of, but if it’s between a shot clock and a weird two-pointer or restricted area then give me the shot clock every day of the week.

Simplicity is the friend of college lacrosse, but these recommendations and proposals do nothing but cloud the game with more rules.