What's the rule?

So you think you know the rules? Test yourself, thanks to the Professional Development Committee and member Mark Young. As you encounter situations during meets and want to make suggestions for situations to the Professional Development Committee, please contact Young.

The format is simple. Each week, a new situation is presented below and you can determine if the rule has been correctly applied. The ruling is published the following week. When you answer the questions, consider both college and high school rules.

What's the Rule is on summer holiday. See you in September!

May 29
Situation: After completion of the 4 x 100 meter relay, it is discovered that some of the staggers were measured incorrectly. Following consultation with the games committee and the coaches involved, the referee decides that the race will be rerun after the completion of the last scheduled race. Following the rerun, it is discovered that Team A has (a) changed the running order of its team, or (b) substituted another runner for one of the original four members of the relay team.
    What consequences should follow? As always, respond for both NFHS and NCAA rules.
Ruling: For NFHS, as long as the competitors are listed among the six who are allowed on the relay card, there is no violation in either a or b. NFHS 5.10.2 and note.
    NCAA 5.8.2 allows any eligible athlete to participate as a member of a relay team at any time during a competition, so no violation in either a or b.

May 22
Situation: In the 4 x 100 meter relay, the umpire rules Team B to have passed the baton before the start of the zone. The coach of Team B protested to the meet director and the matter was brought to the Jury of Appeals.
    There is more than one problem here, but assuming that the matter had been properly protested, what should the outcome be? What other problems are apparent from the situation as presented?
Ruling: For high schools competitions, the situation as presented is not reviewable by the Jury of Appeals per NFHS 3.5.4(a), as it involves a judgment decision. The situation would be reviewable by an appointed jury per NCAA 4.1.16.
    However, in the presented circumstance, the disqualification had not been made by the Referee. The Referee has the sole authority to rule on infractions. NFHS 3.4.3, NCAA 3.4.2(d). So, in either instance, there would have been no valid disqualification, so no need for the jury.

May 15
Situation: In the 110 meter hurdles, A1 knocks over the last three hurdles before winning the event. B1, who finished second, knocks over all 10 hurdles. The umpire rules that A1 was making an honest attempt to clear each hurdle, whereas B1 appeared to be not attempting to clear the hurdles. What should the ruling be? Respond for both sets of rules.
Ruling: A1 is the winner based on the umpire's ruling that he/she was making an honest effort to clear all of the hurdles. By failing to clear any of the hurdles, B1 has not demonstrated that effort. NFHS 5.14.2(a)
    NCAA Rule 5.6.2(c) requires a more difficult standard. The athlete will be disqualified for "deliberately knocking down any hurdle." 
    In both cases, the umpire must exercise judgment, but "deliberately knocking a hurdle down" is different from not making an honest effort to clear the hurdle.

May 8
Situation: Following the 800 meter run, an alleged violation of runner interference is reported to the referee by: (a) two members of the Jury of Appeals who are sitting in the stands; (b) one of the two finish line officials; or (c) an umpire who is stationed on the opposite side of track from the alleged violation. The umpire(s) assigned to the area of the alleged violation reported no interference had occurred. What result should be ruled? As usual, reply for both NFHS and NCAA rules.
Ruling: In (a) and (b), it is not the responsibility of these officials to serve as umpires and as long as no violation was observed or determined by the umpire(s) assigned or by the Referee personally, no disqualification would be in order. In (c), the referee will decide based on the information from the head umpire and those assigned to the area in question. NFHS 3.11.3(which confers responsibility on the Umpires to report infractions to the Head Umpire and then to the Referee.
    NCAA 3.5.2 requires the umpires to detect and report all apparent violations of the rules to the head umpire. In (a) and (b) it would be inappropriate for any other than an umpire to make a report. In (c), the referee would weigh the judgment of the umpire on the other side of the track and that of those assigned to the specific area in question in rendering a decision.

May 1
Situation: In a 400 meter dash, which is being run entirely in lanes, A1, after entering the finishing straightaway, veers to the lane on the outside, does not interfere with anyone, recovers and returns to the proper lane and finishes first. The coach of B1 protests that A1 should be disqualified for running out of the assigned lane. What should the ruling be? Would the answer be any different if A1 did not return to the assigned lane? Remember to respond for both NFHS and NCAA rules.
Ruling: There is no violation in this instance NFHS 5.12.1; NCAA5.4.1.
However, that result is reversed if A1 does not finish in his/her lane.
Disqualification results in that instance per NFHS 5.12.1(d) and NCAA 5.5.2(c)

April 24
Situation: In the 110 meter hurdles, A1 makes a clean start, but two strides out of the blocks, stumbles and falls to the track. What should the ruling be? As always, answer for both NFHS and NCAA rules.
Ruling: The race should not be recalled. The rules do not provide for recalling a race run in lanes. NFHS 5.7.6 and NCAA 5.1.6 both provide for recalling only those races not started in lanes and caused by contact with another competitor.

April 17
Situation: Athlete A1 throws the javelin in a legal manner, within the prescribed time limit. The javelin lands completely within the sector. The first point of contact the javelin makes with the ground is with its tail. Is the throw fair or foul? As usual, respond for both NFHS and NCAA rules.
Ruling: NFHS 6.9.12 measure from nearest edge of first point of contact. Per NCAA 6.10.1 "obvious and irrefutable first contact other than metal head shall be ruled foul."

April 10
Situation: In the Pole Vault, A, because of inclement weather, requests permission from the head event judge to wear gloves that have neither ridges nor any special adherent to provide a better gripping surface. What should the event judge respond?
    As always, respond for both NCAA and NFHS rules.
Ruling: According to NFHS Rules, gloves are specifically prohibited NFHS 6.5.19.
According to NCAA 6.6.4(c), gloves are specifically permitted. So, opposite results, depending upon jurisdiction.

April 3
Situation - 2 parts:
    1st part: At the beginning of the of competition in the triple Jump, the head event judge decides to use the take-off board closest to the pit for the girls' competition. A1 requests to use the takeoff board farthest from the pit and is given permission to do so by the judge. (a) A1 asks to take her 3rd jump from board closer to the pit, or (b) without informing the judge, A1 takes her 3rd jump from the board closer to the pit. What should the ruling be in either case?
    2nd part: A1 betters B1's triple jump on his/her last jump, but inadvertently touches the runway with the drag foot during the step. B1's coach protests that A1 fouled on that last attempt. What should the ruling be?
    As always, respond for both NCAA and NFHS rules in both instances.
Ruling: In Part 1(a), this would be permissible. NFHS 6.9.7, NCAA 6.7.2 in (b), not permissible without the approval of the event judge as such change would result in a foul.
    In Part 2, Protest denied; there is no foul. Neither NFHS 6.9.10, nor NCAA 6.7.3 lists the foot drag as a foul.

March 27
Situation: Following the conclusion of the 4 x 400 meter relay, A4 of the winning team throws the baton in to the air as he/she is congratulated by teammates. No immediate action is taken by the Referee or any other official until a protest is lodged. What should the outcome be? As always, consider both NCAA and NFHS rules in answering.
Ruling: If the Referee acknowledges that the baton was thrown in the air, Team A is disqualified in high school rules by NFHS 5.11.2. There is no distinction between disgust and celebration.
    For NCAA rules, the applicable provision NCAA 4.2.3 Misconduct, which is described as "any act of dishonesty, unsportsmanlike conduct unprofessional behavior.... that discredits the event". So, in this instance, it would depend upon the judgment of the Referee and/or Jury of Appeals.

March 20
Situation: In the 400 meter dash final, A1 is leading when a non-participating contestant of Team B interferes with A1. (a) Team B has one or more competitors in the event, or (b) Team B has no competitors in the event. What should the ruling be in either instance? As always, consider both NCAA and NFHS rules when responding.
Ruling: In situation (a), all of Team B's competitors will be disqualified (NFHS 4.6.3), (NCAA 5.5.1) In situation (b), If the interference affected the outcome of the race, the Referee can schedule for the race to be rerun and disqualify the offending athlete from Team B from the remainder of the meet. NFHS 3.4.3, NCAA 3.4.2(b) and (c).

March 13
Situation: After completing a javelin throw, the competitor (a) leaves the runway under control while exiting from behind the foul line after the javelin lands, (b) does not leave the runway until after the javelin lands within the sector, but steps over the perpendicular side extension on the throwing sector side of the foul line arc, (c) purposely steps out of the sector over the foul line after the implement lands even though the attempt/trial was a legal one.
Which, if any, of these throws is legal? Remember to respond for both NFHS and NCAA Rules.
Ruling: A legal attempt will be ruled in (a) and an illegal attempt in both (b) and (c). NFHS 6.8.11 requires that a competitor only leave the runway behind the foul line once the implement has landed. NCAA 6.10.3(f) requires the same results.

March 6
Situation: A1's discus throw hits the side of the throwing cage and deflects to a landing inside the sector. Is the throw fair or foul? Remember to respond for college and high school rules.

Ruling: This is a foul throw in high school, NFHS 6.4.9. It is a fair throw in college, NCAA 6.9.2(note 2).

Situation: True or false: Wearing headsets in the competition area is prohibited. As always, refer to NFHS and NCAA rules.
Ruling: True. NCAA 4.1.20 prohibits the use of myriad electronic devices including mobile phones, radios, etc.
While the NFHS book does not have a similar prohibition, MIAA Division and All-State meets will follow NFHS Article 8. Electronic devices may be used in unrestricted areas and coaching boxes, providing the location does not interfere with progress of the meet as determined by the meet referee. Electronic devices shall not be used to transmit information to the competitor during the race or trial.  Electronic devices shall not be used for any review of an official's decision.

Jan 30
Situation: While preliminary heats of the hurdles are being run, a competitor in the upcoming dash trials is nearby the starting line practicing starts by assuming the "on your mark" and "set" positions, and then "starting" at the sound of the starter's gun. Allowed or not under NFHS and NCAA rules?
Ruling: Under NCAA 5.1.1 "Practice starts in the immediate area of the starting line are prohibited in conjunction with the starter's commands."
    While NFHS has no specific prohibition, practice starts could be disallowed by the starter.

Jan 23
Situation: In a distance event (but it wouldn't matter), A1, who is leading the other competitors, falls just before the finish line and rolls across the line without breaking the tape or interfering with another competitor. What is the effect of A1's fall regarding finishing/placement? 
Ruling: NFHS 5.8.1 defines finish as that point when the competitor's body (torso, not head, neck, arms, legs, etc.) crosses the finish line. Thus, in the situation cited, A1 would win as long as his/her torso crossed the finish line first, even though he/she was on the ground.
    Under NCAA 5.3.1, the same result would occur.

Jan 16
Situation: At the 1200 meter mark of the mile/1600, the umpire (a) observes a runner checking his/her wristwatch for split time, or (b) hears an audible beep from a runner's watch. The umpire reports the incidents to the Referee. What actions, if any, should ensue? As usual, respond for both NFHS and NCAA rules.
Ruling: There is no violation. NFHS 3.6.5 note 2 states "the use of a watch worn around the wrist is not considered an aid." 
Neither NCAA 4.1.10 relating to electronic devices, nor 4.2.4 regarding assistance, proscribe the use of a wrist watch.

Jan 9
First Situation: This is a two-part question:
In the first situation, A1 hits the crossbar and it bounces on the supports but does not fall off until after A1 has landed and stepped out of the landing pit. Is this a successful jump or a failed attempt?
Second situation: After clearing the bar, A1, while exiting the pit, with the crossbar visibly steady, stumbles into the upright, which dislodges the bar. Successful jump or unsuccessful attempt?

Ruling: In the first situation it is an unsuccessful attempt. NFHS 6.4.14, NCAA 6.5.3(a). If the only force which dislodges the bar is provided by the competitor it is a failed attempt irrespective of where the competitor is when the bar falls.
In the second situation, the jump should be ruled successful. NFHS 6.4.14, NCAA 6.5.4(b)

Jan 2
Situation: Following the preliminaries, there is a tie between A1 and B1 for the last qualifying spot to advance to the Finals in a throwing event or horizontal jump. The judge dvances A1 to the Finals on the basis of having the second best mark in the prelims. B1 and his/her coach protest to the Referee that this is not the correct procedure. Ruling? As always, respond for both NFHS and NCAA rules.
Ruling: Both A1 and B1 should advance to the Finals. NFHS 6.2.19 and NCAA 6.2.5

Dec 19
Situation: While in the designated coaches area, A1's coach takes a series of digital pictures of A1's attempt to clear the bar in the pole vault. The event judge observes A1 (a) looking at all of the pictures, while discussing each to correct technique; and (b) looking at a single picture before returning to the competition area. What should the event judge rule in both instances and, as always, be sure to respond for both NFHS and NCAA rules.
Ruling: Under NFHS rules, there is no violation of NFHS 4.6.5 in either a) or b) as long as the coach is not in a restricted area and the athlete does not delay the competition. Under NCAA rule, the athlete would be subject to disqualification as that rule specifically prohibits "viewing a video or photos ... during event competition."

Dec 12
Situation: In the 100 meter dash, (a) A1 is dressed in maroon shorts with a gold top that has a maroon sash across the front; (b) A2 is wearing maroon shorts and a plain gold top; and (c) A3 is wearing a white t-shirt with red and white striped shorts. The school colors are maroon and gold. What should the clerk and referee rule regarding all 3 A's?
Ruling: NFHS 4.3.1 requires: Under the rules, both A1 And A2 are in compliance as the tops and bottoms are both clearly school issue and are in the school colors. A3 is not in compliance as neither his/her singlet nor shorts are school issue. The Clerk and Referee should warn A3 and the coach of Team A to get in to proper uniform or be subject to disqualification.
    NCAA 4.2.3 (which is new) requires that "On any single day of competition, ALL (emphasis added) team members must wear uniforms clearly indicating through color, logo and combination of all outer garments worn as a uniform, that they are from the same team." So, while A1 and A2 may be wearing school issued unifroms, they would not be in compliance with this rule as the uniforms are somewhat different. A3 is clearly not in uniform as stated above. The Clerk and Referee would warn the offenders as noted above and the athletes would be subject to disqualification if not in compliance.

Dec 5
Situation: It has long been customary for the Starter to fire a pistol, or for another official to ring a bell, at the start of the final lap of races of more than one lap. Is this custom a rule, or just a quaint vestige of the past? As always, respond for both NFHS and NCAA rules.
Ruling: It is very much a rule. NFHS 3.6.1, NEW this year, requires that the Starter or another official designated by the Starter, shall give a signal at the beginning of the last lap in each individual race of 2 laps or more. NCAA 3.18 requires that "The lap scorer shall ring a bell when the event leader begins his or her final lap." This rule applies to races of more than 2 laps.

Nov 28
Situation: Prior to initiating a Put, A1 takes a position in the back of the circle and shifts the shot between the right and left hands several times. As the shot returns to the putting hand on the last shift, A1 immediately begins his/her glide across the circle. During the movement through the circle, the shot is held close to the chin and the hand does not drop below this position during the putting action. The Shot lands within the sector lines and A1 exits through the back half of the circle. Legal Put?
Ruling: Legal Put. NFHS 6.7.9(b) requires a pause by the thrower after entering the ring prior to initiating the put. The passing of the put back and forth is not prohibited.
    NCAA 6.8.1 requires that "a competitor must start from a stationary position inside the circle." A person standing still is stationary.

Nov 14
Situation: At the conclusion of the Conference Cross-country Championship race, teams A and B are tied for third place with 68 points. How should the tie be broken? Be sure to answer for both NFHS and NCAA Rules.
Ruling: For competitions governed by NFHS rules, "ties in team scoring shall be resolved by comparing the 6th place finishers from the tying teams." The team with the higher placing 6th place finisher wins. If one team does not have a 6th place finisher, the team with one wins. NFHS 9.2.4. For competitions governed by NCAA rules, the tie is broken by comparing "in order the place finish of each of the 5 scoring members of the tied teams. The team with the majority of winning comparisons shall be awarded the higher place."

Nov 7
Situation: Team A has 6 competitors in a race. A3 gets disoriented and makes a wrong turn and runs off the course. A3 still finishes in the top 5 for his/her team. A6 finishes last in the race, but completes the prescribed route. How should Team A be scored? 
Ruling: A3 will be disqualified and A6 scores as Team A's 5th runner. All other members of team A score in their respective positions. NFHS 8.7(f) provides disqualification for anyone who fails to complete the prescribed course. There is not team penalty for this infraction other than the higher point total. NCAA 8.8(a) disqualifies a runner "who gains a meaningful advantage by failing to complete the prescribed course." Again, the other runners from tam A are not effected.

Oct 31
Situation: Under what circumstances, if any, may a cross-country race be recalled after it has been properly started? As always, be mindful of both NFHS and NCAA rules.
Ruling: NFHS 8.4.4 states that the runners will be observed for 100 meters if for any reason the race should need to be recalled.
NCAA 8.5.5(4) requires a recall if a runner falls within the first 100 meters due to contact with another runner.

Oct 24
Situation: While inspecting the cross-country course prior to the a meet, the visiting coach discovers that in several portions of the course, bales of hay or logs have been placed across the running course, theoretically to make the course more challenging. The visiting coach objects to the placement of the barriers. What should the ruling be?
Ruling: The barriers should be removed. NFHS rule 8.1.3(c) requires "no ground obstructions which might cause tripping, turned ankles, etc." NCAA rule 8.2.2 recommends, as far as possible, that the running area be confined to fields, woods and grasslands. The turf should be of a quality to promote safety and freedom of injury to the runners.

Oct 17
Situation: After the being called to the starting line at a cross-country meet for the starter's final instructions, the members of Team A run away from the starting line for a team cheer. The starter warns the team that if any further runouts occur before the start, those involved will be disqualified for unacceptable conduct. Referencing both NFHS and NCAA rules, what should the ruling be?
Ruling: Under NFHS rule 8.4.4 "once teams have been called to the starting line by the starter, no further run-outs are permitted." So, in the example, Team A would be subject to disqualification.
    NCAA Rule 5.1.1 states "The starter has sole control over all aspects of the start. The starter's decisions shall be final." Team A's running away from the start when called to starting line for review of the commands could be construed as failure to follow the starter's instructions, but any penalty would be up to the starter.

Oct 10
Situation: The state or NCAA final cross-country meet includes both team and individual entries. How are the team scores determined?
Ruling: NFHS rule 8.2.3 states that "If fewer than five competitors of a team finish,... the places of all members of that team shall be disregarded and the teams scores re-ranked.
    NCAA 8.6.3(a) states "Those teams not finishing at least five runners likewise shall not be included in the order of team finish."

Note from Mark Young:
FYI, the new NFHS Rules book has condensed Rules numbering. So, cross-country, which has heretofore been Rule 9, is now Rule 8. Apparently, the editors have combined what used to be Rules 6 and 7 (Throwing and Jumping) into one Rule 6 (Field Events).

Oct 3
Situation: In a cross country meet, members of Team A are all wearing identical outer tops and bottoms. However, A3 is wearing green half tights but the other 6 team members are wearing blue full length tights. What, if anything, should the clerks or referee rule? As always, respond for both NFHS and NCAA rules.
Ruling: Under high school rules, there is no violation if the  half tights are a different color than the full length ones. NFHS 4.3.1(c)7
Under NCAA rules this is a violation. NCAA 4.3.2(b) requires that undergarments worn under the bottom garment be of an identical color irrespective of length.

Sept 26
Situation: Computerized chips/transponders are being used to determine times in a cross-country. Runner A dives across the line to barely edge out Runner B. When the official results are posted, Runner A had the second fastest time, but the judges had awarded her/him first place because his/her torso had crossed the finish line first. Was this the proper result? As always, answer for both NFHS and NCAA rules.
Ruling: No under NFHS rules. NFHS 9.3.3 requires using the chip/transponder results when that system is being used. In 2016, Rule 9-3-3 was revised to recommend the use of a video or photograph to verify the order of finish in races in which the timing system indicates a differential of one-tenth of a second or less. Having the video as a back-up and a process in place for problems that may arise from the use of a computerized transponder/chip system is a good solution, NFHS said.
The NCAA citation is 8.5.6(f). This requires the photo review of places separated by less than 1/10th of a second.

Sept 19
Situation: There is a tie for first place at the conference cross country meet. Each of the tied teams have only five finishers. Which team wins and why? Respond for both NCAA and NFHS rules.
RulingUnder NFHS rules, if there are only 5 finishers for each of the tied teams, the tie is broken by totaling the finishes of the first 4 finishers.   NFHS 9.2.5   NOTE: If either(or both) team has 6 finishers, the tie is broken by comparing the sixths. If only one team has a sixth place finisher, that team wins. NFHS 9.2.4
Using NCAA rules, the tie is broken by comparing, in order, the place finish of each of the five scoring team members. The team with the majority of winning comparisons wins. NCAA 8.6.3(d). The 6th place finisher has no bearing on tie breaking.