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NCAA considering making referees official timekeepers, other changes


The NCAA is taking steps to better align itself with FIFA standards for it’s soccer programs.

The main change being considered is allowing referees to be the official timekeepers for matches, as they are throughout FIFA level competitions. The alteration was recommended at the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Soccer Rules Committee’s annual meeting in Indianapolis last week.

“In discussions with match officials, as well as the coaching community, the opportunity to align with FIFA rules regarding added time makes common sense for our game,” said John Trask, chair of the committee and men’s soccer coach at Wisconsin. “Match officials worldwide are responsible for administrating the length of a soccer game, and it will be a significant enhancement to college soccer.”

Much like almost every league throughout the world, the stadium clock would still run and the referee would signal the amount of stoppage time remaining near the end of the half.

They are also recommending in stadium clocks count up from zero, as opposed to down from 45 minutes as they have in the past.

Other changes the NCAA are considering include harsher penalties for schools that don’t ensure yellow and red card suspensions are followed. Their proposal included doubling the suspension for a player who didn’t sit out a game they were suspended for and further doubling that suspension for the school’s head coach.

The committee is also considering changes that would make violent conduct reviewable by instant replay, allowing school, conference, or commercial logos on the field, and allowing bands, musical instruments, and artificial noisemakers in the stands to be used during play.

These proposals will be reviews and voted on by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel when they meet via teleconference on April 25.


  1. “They are also recommending in stadium clocks count up from zero, as opposed to down from 45 minutes as they have in the past.”

    my god, this is getting dreamy!

  2. Whether to count up or down is a pretty inconsequential arguement, so you guys can get your jollies off on that one. However, I’ve always despised the lack of transparency in how referees determine stoppage time (in FIFA-rules). It is just another way for referees to influence outcomes. If I had my way, the change would be the other way around, for FIFA to adopt NCAA time keeping rules. If a referee thinks the clock should be stopped, let him signal it, for all to see. I’ve officiated many games using both systems, and I generally agree that rules should be in alignmemt, but current college and high school time keeping rules are far more objective, transparent, and less prone to abuse.

    As for referees allowing teams to finish an attack, why do we think that’s fair? If a team has defended well for 45 minutes, why should the attacking team be given more time? Again, that is just more subjective nonsense that has nothing to do with fairness.

  3. I think the proposed timing change is overrated. If the ref polices timewasting correctly the count down clock is in some ways more accountable. The one area I always thought was abused was subbing with the running clock — it becomes another way of killing clock in school soccer — and you could fix that by stopping the clock for subs. The main difference to me was that in club (and international) soccer you generally are allowed to finish the final sequence while school soccer treats the clock as sacrosanct and so you have to rush.

    Rest of the stuff, they should let the crowds be noisy as they want within safety limits. I think the conferences should be able, as MLS and EPL used to do, to review tape sent in of missed violence. But if we’re talking everyone from D1-D3 then real time VAR for everyone is not realistic, and I don’t know if I want some conferences with real time replay and some where you get what you got.

    Most conferences have online stats and scoreboards for even non-conference games so I don’t get how you could sneak card-ineligible players by for some non-conference contest. That’s just a matter of enforcing eligibility rules and you should lose games for fielding suspended players just like if they didn’t do clearinghouse or aren’t academically eligible or any other reason a player is temporarily or permanently not legal.

    The logo stuff is Money! Money! Money! That is for TV. I don’t necessarily like what money and TV are doing to the NCAA that I once participated in, endless conference re-alignment, obsession with TV deals, so from my perspective I’d rather see clean fields or just a limited size institution/conference logo set.

    • I think the idea of superlong single seasons going both semesters doesn’t understand very well you are there to study. It’s the sort of thing people say who treat NCAA like a development league and not like an education that is most players’ end-game. I also personally feel like there should only be one season that “counts” for NCAA ball. But I would be OK with either having a separate indoor season (track has indoor and outdoor) or allowing maybe a few more tournaments or games in the spring offseason programs before PDL starts up (I don’t think some of the NCAA critics factor in players continuing over to PDL; I think their best argument is you do a lot of spring practice for very little competition, and I basically turned into a track runner in my springs).

      • If anything it would help studying. Rather than playing 3 games a week, and not having time/energy to study, it would spread the games out some. That allows for proper recovery as well, and less injuries.

      • People advocating extending the season tend to forget it’s snow season in the winter. NCAA currently cuts off right at the edge of too cold as it is. Out there in the teens and snow. Meh. Nor do I want to back the season into the summer and play in 90 or 100.

        I feel like college sports is a distraction from the prime directive, and not necessarily something that needs an endless season. I am open to creation of isolated tournaments and spring-leagues (like the new ACC thing) to where spring soccer is not 2 months of practice for maybe 3 weekends of games. But I always made my best grades injured or in the spring. I think a period of sports downtime is fine.

        I’d tweak NCAA but I kind of like the trade off as is. People who want to be pros now and play for months straight go HGP/MLS/USL. People who want an education and a short season and a possible lottery ticket for MLS (or elsewhere), play college. IMO college is still a relevant producer of players who routinely challenge for Rookie of the Year since they are focal to the coaches and given playing time. But this NCAA hoops mess with recruiting gets at what happens when NCAA is too greedy and too willing to be almost a development league. To me it should stay a somewhat innocent short season and the better players go play PDL, and maybe allow more games in the spring window, or create some sort of futsal or indoor.

        To me I always thought the biggest factor in how I showed up in the fall was the summer leagues and tournaments I could get hooked up doing. The busier I was playing summer soccer the more ready I was in the fall. Spring was a nuisance except for tournaments.

  4. These are not the changes we were hoping for. These incredibly minor changes will have ZERO effect on the game and were things that should have been changed years ago anyway. How about a longer season- the one thing everyone knows is holding back the players?!?!?! Wow… another failure to evolve and better the sport in this country even when the answers are smack in our face. Oh well, soon enough, college soccer will be purely for those who don’t seek to be professionals anyway.


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