NCAA mulls tougher taunting penalties

Updated: February 11, 2009, 7:01 PM ET
Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS -- Oregon coach Mike Bellotti wants college football to have tougher penalties against unsportsmanlike conduct and dangerous hits.

Now it's time to find out whether his coaching colleagues agree with his suggestions.

Bellotti, the NCAA football rules committee chairman, said Wednesday officials should eject more players for flagrant personal fouls, and agreed to seek input on whether some celebration penalties should be live-ball penalties, which could result in losing points.

While the ejections will be a point of emphasis next season, the celebration recommendation is not even a formal proposal yet.

"We're going to poll the coaches and see if they support that [celebration change]," Bellotti said. "They may not."

Bellotti said the change was not likely to take affect for at least two years, and even if approved would likely apply only to players who begin taunting opponents before crossing the goal line. The penalty would be assessed from the spot of the foul, like offensive holding calls in college football.

Teams would not be penalized, Bellotti said, for a group celebration after the score because the NCAA wants to emphasize the team concept, not individuals.

Then again, the committee may not have to do anything.

"That would be a huge change, so we want to give it time to soak out there," said Rogers Redding, the SEC coordinator of officials. "We may change behaviors just because we're talking about it."

Other proposals include a revised statement on sportsmanship that could lead to harsher penalties.

The edited version would make coaches responsible for player behavior before, during and after games. If there are repeated infractions, a coach and school could be disciplined by conference officials.

None of the proposals will become official until they are passed by the oversight committee next month.

Bellotti also wants officials to have more leeway in ejecting players for flagrant personal fouls. Those calls would also trigger an automatic review by conference officials.

"We believe, in some cases, that players must be penalized more severely when the contact is clearly flagrant and dangerous," Bellotti said.

Another change would limit the protective area for punters.

That is a reaction to the trendy rugby style kicks, a tactic in which punters move several steps before kicking the ball on the run. If adopted, opponents could not be called for roughing or running into the kicker if the punter is outside the tackle box.

Game clock and time issues that have dominated rules meetings in recent years were not major topics this week.

"There was consensus approval by coaches on all levels on the clock discussions," Bellotti said. "I think the clock rules worked out as we thought they would. It may have cost teams four or five plays per game, but that's what we were expecting."

The committee also approved a provision allowing both teams to wear colored jerseys in games when there is a clear contrast in color and only if both teams agrees. The agreement is also subject to conference approval.

If there is not an agreement, the visiting team would wear white jerseys.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press