|Tuesday, February 18
Officials still encouraged to give returners protection
INDIANAPOLIS -- The NCAA Football Rules Committee has eliminated the 2-yard ''halo'' rule on punt returns.
Returners still must be given an unimpeded opportunity to catch the punt. The penalty for failing to do that or for contacting a player who has signaled for a fair catch will be 15 yards.
''Officials will be instructed to enforce these rules strictly and give receivers, who are often in the most defenseless position on the field, the protection they deserve,'' said committee chair Donnie Duncan, senior associate commissioner of the Big 12 Conference.
''The 2-yard restricted area provided a sense of false security for the kick receiver,'' Duncan added. ''Eliminating it will not reduce the safety of kick receivers, but will clarify what they are to expect.''
Also, backs who are positioned outside the normal tackle position are now prohibited from blocking below the waist near the line of scrimmage. The committee also voted to start the game clock on kickoffs when the ball is touched instead of when it is kicked.
The committee identified potentially dangerous blocks, sideline control and reducing unnecessary hits against players in defenseless positions as points of emphasis for 2003.