Salisbury Press

Saturday, February 23, 2019

NHFS adopts new basketball rules

Thursday, November 16, 2017 by CHUCK HIXSON Special to the Press in Sports

It’s late in a high school basketball game and the score is close. Time is running out, so the coach of the team trailing on the scoreboard instructs his players to start fouling in an effort to stop the clock and hope that the opposing team misses their foul shots. The strategy turns the final minute of a game into a 10-minute affair.

That could be a thing of the past if the National Federation of State High School Associations has its way. The NFHS adopted rules changes for the upcoming high school basketball season and announced points of emphasis that have been communicated to school athletic directors. The PIAA will also adopt the rules changes and instruct their referees to follow the points of emphasis.

The intentional fouling part of the changes comes under the points of emphasis, which clarifies exactly when a personal foul should be called. The committee clarified that an intentional foul is any foul that is made to neutralize an opponent’s obvious advantage in a game situation, involves contact on a player who is not involved in the play or shows excessive contact.

The NFHS is concerned about fouling at the end of the game when coaches instruct players to foul to stop the clock in a close game. The committee’s emphasis statement says “officials must have the courage to enforce the intentional foul rule properly.”

The NFHS also pointed out that players are attempting to skirt the rules on guarding a player by using what they term “body bumping” to avoid fouls. The intent of the rule was to include body bumping as a foul when guarding a player, but officials were slow to call those fouls. For the upcoming season, officials have been informed to strictly enforce the rule on body bumping.

Among the rules changes that have been adopted are: An increase in the size of the coaching box from 14-feet to 28-feet, officials will now use two hands to signal foul and shots awarded information to the official scorer, except in the case of a particularly egregious offense, a team’s coach will be given a verbal warning prior to a technical foul being called on the coach or the team’s bench.

The NFHS also clarified what may be placed on a jersey from an imaginary line from the bottom of the neckline to the top of the shoulders and in the same area on the back of the jersey. The new rules allow only for the school name, nickname, school logo and/or the player’s name to be placed in that area.

There is no mention made of allowing corporate logos of the apparel company that supplies the jerseys to the schools, which some schools have had incorporated onto their uniform in exchange for either free uniforms or a reduced price from the apparel company.

The rationale for increasing the size of the coaching box is to allow coaches to have greater communication with their players. The box will now extend from the baseline for 28-feet toward the scorer’s table.

After a foul, referees will now verbally inform the player who committed the foul and signal to the scorer’s table with two hands the number of the player who committed the foul and how many shots they are being awarded.

“This change was made to minimize reporting errors that occur between the officials and scorekeepers,” said Theresia Wynns, NFHS director of sports and officials and liaison to the NFHS Basketball Rules Committee said in a press release. “Two-handed reporting is easier for the scorekeepers to see and comprehend, and it is less confusing.”

In addition to clarifying an intentional foul and rules on guarding a player, the points of emphasis for the upcoming season include headwear worn for medical or religious reasons. Players who have special headwear must submit a signed physician’s statement or appropriate statement regarding the headwear. The statement must be submitted to the PIAA, which will rule on whether the headwear is appropriate and would then issue documentation to the school to allow the headwear to be worn.