NCAA should just say no to a proposed six-foul rule in college basketball

·4 min read

Random notes:

The NCAA men’s basketball rules committee is meeting in Indianapolis this week to consider possible rule changes for 2021-22. Here’s one they should reject: The six-foul rule.

In an effort to keep better players on the floor longer, the committee is reportedly considering increasing the number of fouls for player disqualification from five to six. It is also considering a modified version of the change, with a player allowed three fouls per half. A fourth foul would result in a player fouling out of that half.

Doesn’t matter. Either would be a bad rule that encourages more fouling, not less. The game would become more physical, not less. And the length of the game would be extended by the stoppages in play coming from the officials’ whistle.

Yes, the NBA has a six-foul rule for player disqualification. But NBA games are 48 minutes in length, compared to 40 for the college game.

Plus, the six-foul rule already has a collegiate precedent. A bad one. The Big East used the six-foul rule for a brief period during the early 1990s, but quickly reverted to the traditional five fouls. Mike Waters of the Syracuse Post-Standard covered the Orange then, as he does now, and tweeted, “Basketball turned into rugby.”

Besides, according to Mike DeCourcy of the Sporting News, there were an average of 17.24 fouls called per team in 2020-21, the lowest number in the 73 years the NCAA has collected data on that statistic.

One rule change the committee should employ: A reduction in timeouts. Coaches are against it, but fans would approve. Teams get four timeouts per team, plus a use-it-or-lose-it one in the first half. Cut it by one per half, including the use-it-or-lose-it.

The committee is also reportedly considering a proposal that would reset the number of team fouls at the 10-minute mark of each half. A team would be in the double bonus if the opponent commits five fouls in that 10-minute period.

But shouldn’t we make the rules easier rather than more difficult for the average fan to understand?

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