Course Content
Rule – 4 Ball in Play, Dead Ball, Out of Bounds
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Rule 11 – The Officials: Jurisdiction and Duties
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Appendix A Game-Official Guidelines for Serious On-Field Player Injuries
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Appendix B Lightning Policy
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Appendix C Concussions
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Appendix D Field Diagrams
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Appendix E Equipment: Additional Details
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Appendix F – Official Football Signals
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Appendix G Summary of Penalties
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Appendix H Accommodations for Student-Athletes with Disabilities
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Part II: Interpretations
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Table of Contents for Approved Rulings
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List of New and Modified Approved Rulings
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NCAA Rules
About Lesson

All fouls in this section (unless noted) and any other acts of unnecessary roughness are personal fouls. For flagrant personal fouls mandating conference review, see Rule 9-6. Except as otherwise noted, the penalties for all personal fouls are as follows:

PENALTY—Personal foul. 15 yards. For dead-ball fouls, 15 yards from the succeeding spot. Automatic first down for fouls by Team B if not in conflict with other rules. Penalties for Team A live-ball personal fouls behind the neutral zone are enforced from the previous spot. Safety if the live-ball foul occurs behind Team A’s goal line [S7, S24, S25, S34, S38, S39, S40, S41, S45 or

S46]. Flagrant offenders shall be ejected or disqualified [S47].

For Team A fouls during free or scrimmage kick plays: Enforcement may be at the previous spot or, if the scrimmage kick crosses the neutral zone, the spot where the subsequent dead ball belongs to Team B (field-goal plays exempted) (Rules 6-1-8 and 6-3-13).

For Team B personal fouls during a legal forward pass play (Rules 7-3-12 and 10-2-2-e): Enforcement is at the end of the last run when it ends beyond the neutral zone and there is no change of team possession during the down. If the pass is incomplete or intercepted, or if there is a change of team possession during the down, the penalty is enforced at the previous spot.

Flagrant Fouls

ARTICLE 1. Before the game, during the game and between periods, all flagrant fouls (Rule 2-10-3) require ejection or disqualification. Team B flagrant personal fouls require first downs if not in conflict with other rules.

Striking Fouls and Tripping

ARTICLE 2. a. No person subject to the rules shall strike an opponent with the knee; strike an opponent’s helmet (including the face mask), neck, face or any other part of the body with an extended forearm, elbow, locked , palm, fist, or the heel, back or side of the open hand; or gouge an opponent (A.R. 9-1-2-I).

 

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  1. No person subject to the rules shall strike an opponent with their foot or any part of their leg that is below the knee.
  2. There shall be no tripping. Tripping is intentionally using the lower leg or foot to obstruct an opponent below the knee. (Rule 2-28)

Targeting and Making Forcible Contact With the Crown of the Helmet

ARTICLE 3. No player shall target and make forcible contact against an opponent with the crown of their helmet. The crown of the helmet is the portion of the helmet above the level of the top of the facemask. This foul requires that there be at least one indicator of targeting (See Note 1 below). When in question, it is a foul. (Rule 9-6) (A.R. 9-1-3-I)

Targeting and Making Forcible Contact to Head or Neck Area of a Defenseless Player

ARTICLE 4. No player shall target and make forcible contact to the head or neck area of a defenseless opponent (See Note 2 below) with the helmet, forearm, hand, fist, elbow or shoulder. This foul requires that there be at least one indicator of targeting (See Note 1 below). When in question, it is a foul (Rules 2-27-14 and 9-6). (A.R. 9-1-4-I-VI)

Note 1: “Targeting” means that a player takes aim at an opponent for purposes of attacking with forcible contact that goes beyond making a legal tackle or a legal block or playing the ball. Some indicators of targeting include but are not limited to:

  • A player leaving their feet to attack an opponent by an upward and forward thrust of the body to make forcible contact in the head or neck area.
  • A crouch followed by an upward and forward thrust to attack with forcible contact at the head or neck area, even though one or both feet are still on the ground.
  • Leading with helmet, shoulder, forearm, fist, hand or elbow to attack with forcible contact at the head or neck area.
  • Lowering the head before attacking by initiating forcible contact with the crown of the helmet.

Note 2: Defenseless player (Rule 2-27-14). When in question, a player is defenseless. Examples of defenseless players include but are not limited to:

  • A player in the act of or just after throwing a
  • A receiver attempting to catch a forward pass or in position to receive a backward pass, or one who has completed a catch and has not had time to protect themselves or has not clearly become a ball carrier.
  • A kicker in the act of or just after kicking a ball, or during the kick or the return.
  • A kick returner attempting to catch or recover a kick, or one who has completed a catch or recovery and has not had time to protect themselves or has not clearly become a ball carrier.
  • A player on the
  • A player obviously out of the
  • A player who receives a blind-side

 

 

  • A ball carrier already in the grasp of an opponent and whose forward progress has been stopped.
  • A quarterback any time after a change of possession
  • A ball carrier who has obviously given themselves up and is sliding feet-first.

PENALTY—[ARTICLE 3 and ARTICLE 4]—15 yards. For dead-ball fouls, 15 yards from the succeeding spot. Automatic first down for fouls by Team B if not in conflict with other rules. For fouls in the first half: Disqualification for the remainder of the game. (Rule 2-27-12) For fouls in the second half: Disqualification for the remainder of the game and the first half of the next game. If the foul occurs in the second half of the last game of the season, players with remaining eligibility shall serve the suspension during the postseason or the first game of the following season.

If a player receives a third Targeting foul within the same season, disqualification for the remainder of the game and that player will receive an automatic one-game suspension in their team’s next scheduled game. Targeting fouls subsequent to the player’s third Targeting foul within the same season, disqualification for the remainder of that game and the player will receive an automatic one-game suspension in their team’s next scheduled game. If the foul occurs in the last game of the season, players with remaining eligibility shall serve the suspension during the postseason or the first game of the following season.

The disqualification must be reviewed by Instant Replay (Rule 12-3-5). [S38, S24 and S47]

When the Instant Replay Official reverses the disqualification: If the targeting foul is not in conjunction with another personal foul by the same player, the 15-yard penalty for

targeting is not enforced. If the player commits another personal foul in conjunction with the targeting foul, the 15-yard penalty for that personal foul is enforced according to rule. (A. R. 9-1-4-VII-VIII)

For games in which Instant Replay is not used:

If a player is disqualified in the first half, at the option of the conference or by pre-game mutual agreement of the teams in inter-conference games, during the intermission between halves the Referee will be provided a video of the play in question for their review in the officials’ private secure location. The Referee will review the video to determine whether the disqualification is reversed. The decision of the Referee is final. (A. R. 9-1-4-IX)

Note: The video source and the location of the review will be determined prior to the game through mutual agreement of the teams and the Referee.

If a player is disqualified in the second half, the conference has the option to consult the national coordinator of football

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clipping

officials who would then facilitate a video review. Based on the review, if and only if the national coordinator concludes that the player should not have been disqualified, the conference may vacate the suspension. If the national coordinator supports the disqualification, the suspension for the next game will remain.

 

ARTICLE 5. There shall be no clipping (Rule 2-5).

Exceptions:
  1. Offensive players who are on the line of scrimmage at the snap within the blocking zone (Rule 2-3-6) legally may clip in the blocking zone, subject to the following restrictions:.
    • A player in the blocking zone may not block an opponent with the force of the initial contact from behind and at or below the knee.
    • A player on the line of scrimmage within the blocking zone may not leave the zone and return and legally clip.
    • No player may violate Rule 9-1-6 (Blocking Below the Waist).

Note: The blocking zone disintegrates when the ball leaves the zone (Rule 2-3-6).

  1. When a player turns their back to a potential blocker who has committed themself in intent and direction or movement.
  2. When a player attempts to reach a runner or attempts to legally recover or catch a fumble, a backward pass, a kick or a touched forward pass, that player may push an opponent below the waist at or to the buttocks (Rule 9-3-6, Exception 3).
  3. When an eligible player behind the neutral zone pushes an opponent below the waist at or to the buttocks to get to a forward pass (Rule 9-3-6, Exception 5).
  4. Clipping is allowed against the

Blocking Below the Waist

ARTICLE 6. a. Team A prior to a change of team possession:

Linemen with initial position completely inside the tackle box may legally block below the waist inside the tackle box until the ball leaves the tackle box. All other Team A players are allowed to block below the waist only if the force of the initial contact is directed from the front. “Directed from the front” is defined as within the clock face region between “10 o’clock and 2 o’clock” forward of the area of concentration of the player being blocked.

Exceptions:
  1. Team A players may not block below the waist when the block occurs five yards or more beyond the neutral zone.
  2. Players outside the tackle box at the snap, or any time after the snap, or in motion at the snap may not block below the waist toward the original position of the ball at the snap.
  3. Once the ball has left the tackle box, a player may not block below the waist toward their own end line.
  4. Team B prior to a change of team possession:

 

 

  1. Other than in paragraphs 2 and 3 (below), players of Team B may block below the waist only within the area defined by lines parallel to the goal line five yards beyond and behind the neutral zone extended to the To be legal, this block must be directed from the front. Blocking below the waist by players of Team B outside this zone is illegal except against the ball carrier. (A.R. 9-1-6-VI, IX)
  2. Players of Team B may not block below the waist against an opponent who is in position to receive a backward pass.
  3. Players of Team B may not block below the waist against an eligible Team A pass receiver beyond the neutral zone unless attempting to get to the ball or ball carrier. This prohibition ends when a legal forward pass is no longer possible by rule.
  1. During a down in which there is a free kick or scrimmage kick, blocking below the waist by any player is illegal except against a ball carrier.
  2. After change of team After any change of team possession, blocking below the waist by any player is illegal except against a ball carrier.
  3. No player may violate Rule 9-1-5 (Clipping).

Late Hit, Action Out of Bounds

ARTICLE 7. a. There shall be no piling on, falling on or throwing the body on an opponent after the ball becomes dead (A.R. 9-1-7-I).

  1. No opponent shall tackle or block the runner when the runner is clearly out of bounds or throw the runner to the ground after the ball becomes dead.
  2. It is illegal for any player to be clearly out of bounds when initiating a block against an opponent who is out of The spot of the foul is where the blocker crosses the sideline in going out of bounds.

Helmet and Face Mask Fouls

ARTICLE 8. a. No player shall continuously contact an opponent’s face, helmet (including the face mask) or neck with hand(s) or arm(s) (Exception: By or against the runner). [S26]

  1. No player shall grasp and then twist, turn or pull the face mask, chin strap or any helmet opening of an It is not a foul if the face mask, chin strap or helmet opening is not grasped and then twisted, turned or pulled. When in question, it is a foul.

Roughing the Passer

ARTICLE 9. a. No defensive player shall unnecessarily rough a passer, when it is obvious the ball has been thrown. The following actions are illegal, but not limited to:

  1. Targeting fouls as noted in Rules 9-1-3 and 9-1-
  2. Forcible contact to the head or neck area that does not meet the requirements of Rule 9-1-4 (also reference Rule 9-1-2).
  3. Forcible contact that is avoidable after it is obvious the ball has left the passer’s hand. (Exception: A defensive player who is blocked by a Team A player[s] with a force so that they have no opportunity to avoid contact with the passer. However, this does not relieve the defensive player of responsibility for personal fouls as described in elsewhere in this section.).

 

 

  1. Forcibly driving the passer to the ground and landing on the passer with action that punishes the player.
  2. Any action that is a personal foul as described elsewhere in this
  3. When an offensive player is in a passing posture with one or both feet on the ground, no defensive player rushing unabated shall hit the player forcibly at the knee area or below. The defensive player also may not initiate a roll or lunge and forcibly hit this opponent in the knee area or below. [Exceptions:

(1) It is not a foul if the offensive player is a runner not in a passing posture, either inside or outside the tackle box. (2) It is not a foul if the defender grabs or wraps this opponent in an attempt to make a conventional tackle without making forcible contact with the head or shoulder. (3) It is not a foul if the defender is not rushing unabated or is blocked or fouled into this opponent.]

For paragraphs a and b, the penalty is added to the end of the last run when it ends beyond the neutral zone and there is no change of team possession during the down. (A.R. 9-1-9-II-III)

Chop Blocking

ARTICLE 10. There shall be no chop blocking (Rule 2-3-3) (A.R. 9-1-10-I-V).

Leverage and Leaping

ARTICLE 11. a. No defensive player, in an attempt to gain an advantage, may step, jump or stand on an opponent.

  1. It is a foul if a defensive player moves forward and tries to block a kick or apparent kick on a field goal or try by leaving their feet and leaping into the plane directly above the frame of the body of an opponent.

It is not a foul if the player was aligned in a stationary position within one yard of the line of scrimmage when the ball was snapped.

  1. It is a foul if a defensive player who is inside the tackle box tries to block a punt or an apparent punt by leaving their feet and leaping into the plane directly above the frame of the body of an opponent.
    1. It is not a foul if the player tries to block the punt by jumping straight up without attempting to leap over the opponent.
    2. It is not a foul if a player leaps through or over the gap between
  2. No defensive player, in an attempt to block, bat or catch a kick or apparent kick, may:
    1. Step, jump or stand on a
    2. Place a hand(s) on a teammate to get leverage for additional
    3. Be picked up by a teammate, or be elevated, propelled or

PENALTY [a-d]—15 yards, previous spot and automatic first down. [S38]

  1. No player may position themselves with their feet on the back or shoulders of a teammate before the snap.

PENALTY—Dead-ball foul. 15 yards from the succeeding spot. Automatic first down for fouls by Team B if not in conflict with other rules [S27].

 

Contact Against an Opponent Out of the Play

ARTICLE 12. a. No player shall tackle or run into a receiver when a forward pass to that receiver is obviously not catchable. This is a personal foul and not pass interference.

  1. No player shall run into or throw themselves against an opponent obviously out of the play either before or after the ball is dead.

Hurdling

ARTICLE 13. There shall be no hurdling (Exception: The ball carrier may hurdle an opponent).

Contact Against the Snapper

ARTICLE 14. When a team is in scrimmage kick formation, a defensive player may not initiate contact with the snapper until one second has elapsed after the snap (A.R. 9-1-14-I-III).

Horse Collar Tackle

ARTICLE 15. All players are prohibited from grabbing the inside back collar of the shoulder pads or jersey, the nameplate area, or the inside collar of the side of the shoulder pads or jersey, and immediately pulling the ball carrier down. This does not apply to a ball carrier, including a potential passer, who is inside the tackle box (Rule 2-34). Note that the tackle box disintegrates when the ball leaves it.

Roughing or Running Into Kicker or Holder

ARTICLE 16. a. When it is obvious that a scrimmage kick will be made, no opponent shall run into or rough the kicker or the holder of a place kick (A.R. 9-1-16-I, III and VI).

  1. Roughing is a live-ball personal foul that endangers the kicker or
  2. Running into the kicker or holder is a live-ball foul that occurs when the kicker or holder is displaced from their kicking or holding position but is not roughed (A.R. 9-1-16-II).
  3. Incidental contact with a kicker or holder is not a
  4. The kicker’s protection under this rule ends (a) when the kicker has had a reasonable time to regain their balance (A.R. 9-1-16-IV); or (b) when the kicker carries the ball outside the tackle box (Rule 2-34) before
  5. When a defensive player’s contact against the kicker or holder is caused by an opponent’s block (legal or illegal), there is no foul for running into or roughing.
  6. A player who makes contact with the kicker or holder after touching the kick is not charged with running into or roughing the kicker.
  7. When a player other than one who blocks a scrimmage kick runs into or roughs the kicker or holder, it is a foul.
  8. When in question whether the foul is running into or roughing, the foul is roughing.

PENALTY—Roughing or any other personal foul against the kicker who is in the act or just after kicking the ball: 15 yards from the previous spot, plus automatic first down if not in conflict with

 

 

other rules [S38 and S30]. Running into the kicker: 5 yards from the previous spot [S30].

  1. A kicker or holder simulating being roughed or run into by a defensive player commits an unsportsmanlike act (A.R. 9-1-16-V).

PENALTY—15 yards from the previous spot or, if the scrimmage kick crosses the neutral zone, can be enforced where the subsequent dead ball belongs to Team B [S27].

  1. The kicker of a free kick may not be blocked until they have advanced five yards beyond their restraining line, or until the ball has touched a player, an official or the ground.

PENALTY—15 yards from the previous spot [S40].

Continued Participation Without Helmet

ARTICLE 17. A player whose helmet comes completely off during a down may not continue to participate beyond the immediate action in which they are engaged, whether or not the player puts the helmet back on during the down. (A.R. 9-1-17-I)

Blind-Side Block

ARTICLE 18. No player shall deliver a blind-side block by attacking an opponent with forcible contact. (Exceptions: (1) the runner; (2) a receiver in the act of attempting to make a catch.) Note: In addition, if this action meets all the elements of targeting, it is a blind-slide block with targeting (Rule 9-1-3 and 9-1-4).

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