What's the rule?

May 23

Situation: A1 and B1 are tied for the final qualifying position at the conclusion of the preliminaries of the Long Jump. A1 has the longer second best effort, so the official advances A1 to the final. B1's coach protests based on the fact that this should be advanced to the final. The outcome should be? Refer to both NFHS and NCAA rules in answering.

Ruling: Both A1 and B1 should have been advanced so the protest by B1's coach should be upheld.

NFHS 6.2.17 stipulates that "all competitors tying for the last position shall be finalists."

NCAA 6.25 similarly holds that "competitors tying for the last position, by mark, shall advance to final rounds."

April 22

Situation: In the girls Long Jump, 8 places are being awarded, therefore 9 competitors will advance to the Finals. A2 and B2 are tied for the 9th spot. How should the tie be broken to advance only nine to the final? Remember to cite both NCAA and NFHS rules in your answer.

Ruling: NFHS 6.2.17 states that "All competitors tying for the last position shall be finalists." Thus, the tie is not broken.

Similarly, NCAA 6.2.5 states " ...competitors tying for the the last advancement position, by mark, shall advance to the final rounds."

April 15

Situation: Coach of A1, who is injured, instructs A1 to clear the opening height in the Pole Vault, and then pass until he/she is the only one remaining in the competition. The competitor wants to raise the bar only 1 inch (instead of the 3 required) as they are the only one left. Ruling?

Ruling: A1 must jump at the 3" increment. The condition upon which A1 could request only 1" is that he/she has already won the competition (NCAA. 6.5.2, NFHS 6.4.9). A1 has not done so, having not cleared any height since the first one.

April 8

Situation: Seven competitors are advanced to the Finals in the Shot Put. After A1 has taken two throws in the Finals, it is discovered that B1 should have been the 7th qualifier, not A1. What should happen? Will A1's marks count? Should B1 be allowed in the final, and if so, how many throws should be awarded? Respond for both NFHS and NCAA rules.

Ruling: Under NFHS rules (4.7.2), B1 would get to throw but A1's throws would count.

Under NCAA Rules (6.1.7.(a)), B1 may have missed 2, or all 3, of his/her attempts in the finals, which are not to be taken out of order. However, as this was due to Officials' error, the Referee could/should allow B1 all three attempts.

March 11

Situation: A1's discus throw hits the side of the cage and deflects to a landing inside the sector lines. What ruling should be made? As usual, respond for both NFHS and NCAA rules.

Ruling: NFHS 6.6.9(e) requires a throw be ruled a foul if the discus hits the cage before landing in the sector.

Conversely, NCAA 6.9.2(i) rules in note 2 that a throw will be valid if it lands within the sector, even though it may have touched the cage.

What's the Rule will be on spring break until April 1 (no foolin').

March 4

Situation: A1 qualifies for the finals in the Long Jump at the State Meet or a Conference championship. A1 fails to report for finals until all but one competitor is left to take his/her final trial.

Result? Reply for both NFHS and NCAA rules.

Ruling: Assuming that A1 has been excused by the event judge to compete in another event, the judge, per NFHS 6.2.3, may allow A1 to take his/her final trials consecutively before the final jumper, who has earned the right to go last by having the best jump in the preliminaries. The NFHS rule allows the judge to alter the order in Finals as well as the preliminaries.

NCAA 6.1.7 would exclude A1 from being granted any jumps unless A1 were second in the standings prior to the Final round. That rule requires competitors to take their turn in the prescribed order or forfeit that turn. So, unless A1 was second headed in to the Finals, no further jumps would be allowed.

Feb 18

Situation: On the first turn of a distance race, A1 falls to the track as the competitors move toward the inside lane. (a) The fall is caused by inadvertent bumping or interference by another competitor, or (b) there is no evidence that A1's fall was caused by another competitor. What action should the starter take in both cases, and as always, refer to both NFHS and NCAA rules?

Ruling: NFHS 5.7.6 requires recalling a race when a competitor falls in the first 100 meters due to contact with another competitor when the race is not started in lanes or when athletes are sharing a lane. No contact, no recall.

NCAA 5.1.6 requires recalling a track race within the first 50 meters of the start if the start is determined to be unfair. Contact causing a fall is not required.

Feb 11

Situation: In the 400 meter dash, A1 wishes to set his/her block over to the right side of the lane and when a) taking his/her position at the starting line, A1's hand is over the outside lane boundary, or b) set the blocks at an angle causing the starting block to protrude across the outside boundary. Permissible or not? As always, respond for both NFHS and NCAA rules.

Ruling: NFHS 5.7.4 prohibits the placing of the starting blocks and/or competitor's hands outside the lane.

NCAA 5.1.4 also restricts block and hand placement, but does allow competitors in Indoor races that are staggered to place their hands outside the lane lines, but not beyond the start line extended.

Feb 4

Situation: From what points are measurements taken in both the Long Jump and Shot Put? Each measurement has a starting point and end point. Respond for both NFHS and NCAA.

Ruling: In the shot put, measurements should be recorded from the nearest edge of the first mark made by the shot to the inside edge of the stop board per NFHS 6.7.10 and NCAA 6.8.3.

Jan 28

Situation: Competing in the 110 meter hurdles, A1 knocks down the last three hurdles while winning the race. B1, who finishes second, knocks down nearly all of the hurdles. What should the Umpires and Referee decide and why? Reference both NCAA and NFHS rules for your answer.

Ruling: NFHS 5.14.2 requires that a competitor attempt to clear each hurdle (a) and not knock any hurdle down by hand (b). As long as the judgment of the Umpire is that the competitor was attempting to clear each hurdle, and none of them had been knocked down by hand, neither competitor would be disqualified. The NFHS Casebook makes the point that B1, in failing to clear any of the hurdles, would appear to not have been trying and, thus, subject to disqualification.

NCAA 5.6.2(c) requires the disqualification of any competitor who "deliberately knocks down any hurdle," or (d) who deliberately knocks down any hurdle by hand.

The difference between these rules is subtle. On the one hand, is the athlete making an effort to clear the hurdle? On the other hand, was the athlete "deliberate" in knocking the hurdle over? Both situations place the official in the position of having to judge the athlete's intention.

Jan 21

Situation: The Umpire reports an infraction to the Referee by A1, who is running in lanes, for running with two consecutive steps on or over the lane line to his left while running the curve on the track. A1's coach protests saying that the rule is three steps, not two. Under what circumstances would the Coach of A1 be right? Under what circumstance would the coach be wrong? As usual, respond for both NCAA and NFHS rules.

Ruling: NCAA 5.5.2 calls for the disqualification of a runner who steps on the lane line to the left with two consecutive steps of either both feet or a single foot. A1 should be disqualified if this was a college race.

NFHS calls for a disqualification for running on or over the lane line to the runner's left after three consecutive steps of either both or a single foot. A1 would not have been disqualified if this were a high school competition.

Jan 14

Situation: Because of inclement weather, the games committee decides to move some events, including the high jump, indoors, a considerable distance from the track. The event judges were authorized to allow successive trials, change flights, etc, to accommodate competitors and not delay competition because an athlete was at the track in another event. When A1, who was at the track competing in an event reported to the high jump, the bar had already been raised from the opening height to the next in the progression. A1 requested that the bar be lowered to the opening and was accommodated by the event judge. A1 went on to clear that height and two more. At the conclusion of the event, but prior to the results being approved, the coach of Team B protested the lowering of the bar. What result should ensue? Respond for both NFHS and NCAA rules.

Ruling: NFHS 6.4.11 prohibits the lowering of the crossbar except for a jump off situation. The judge was in error in doing so. Similarly, NCAA 6.5.2 prohibits the lowering of the crossbar.

Jan 7

Situation: During a relay, A1 drops the baton: a) while outside an exchange zone, b) while within an exchange zone, or c) within an exchange zone where it rolls in to an adjacent lane and is retrieved by A1. Who may retrieve the baton and under what conditions so as to avoid disqualification of Team A?

Ruling: NFHS 5.10.7 allows either A1 or A2 to retrieve the baton, provided that in c), there is no interference with another team and the baton is retrieved within the limits of proper exchange zone. If the baton is dropped outside the exchange zone, it must be retrieved by the runner who dropped it. In either circumstance, both sets of rules prohibit interference while retrieving the baton.

Similarly, NCAA 5.8.5.

Dec 17

Situation: A one-turn stagger is used to start the 800 meter run. A1, running in lane 2, breaks for the inside lane two strides before reaching the break line and is disqualified. The coach of Team A protests that runners are permitted to run two steps inside their assigned lane before being disqualified. Ruling? Remember to respond for both NFHS and NCAA Rules.

Ruling: Protest denied. NFHS 5.12.2 requires runners to run the entire distance to break line in their assigned lane prior to cutting to the pole. NCAA 5.5.2(d) requires the disqualification of a runner who does not cross the break line within his/her assigned lane.

Dec 10

Situation: Two competitors from Team A are competing for the conference title in the 3000 meter run. As they near finish line, leading the field, they grasp hands and cross the line together. The runners are disqualified by the meet referee. Is this the correct ruling? Be sure to respond for both NCAA and NFHS rules.

Ruling: Under NFHS 4.6.5, this conduct would be considered assistance and result in a disqualification, but it might also qualify as unsporting behavior under 4.6.1.

NCAA 4.2.3 covers unsportsmanlike conduct. 4.2.4 prohibits assistance.

Dec 3

Situation: Competitor A1 is called for his/her second attempt in the high jump. After conferring with the coach, he/she initiates the attempt after 23 seconds have elapsed since the name was called. She/he runs through the mark and returns to her/his mark. He/she begins again after 58 seconds have elapsed, jumps and clears the bar. What should the ruling be? Be sure to respond for both NFHS and NCAA rules.

Ruling: A clearance under NFHS 6.2.2; it is failed attempt under NCAA 6.1.3

May 30

Situation: A1's discus throw lands squarely on the sector line and the official in the field measures it. The coach of Team B protests that the throw should not have been measured. Result? Again, refer to both NFHS and NCAA Rules.

Ruling: Throws that land on the sector lines are foul throws. NFHS 6.6.8: The lines that mark the throwing sector are outside the limits of the sector. NCAA 6.6.2(b) reads that it shall be a foul throw if the competitor "causes the discus to fall ON or outside the lines marking the sector."

An archive of previous years is available from the sidebar.

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.