One month after the conclusion of the college wrestling season, the NCAA Wrestling Rules Committee has proposed making two experimental rules which debuted at the 2014 NWCA All-Star Classic permanent with clarifications, as well as making revisions to rules governing interlocking fingers, technical falls, and near falls, the NCAA announced Wednesday.
The committee met April 13-15 in Indianapolis to review rules to govern Division I wrestling for the 2015-16 season. All rules proposals made by the committee must be approved by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel, which will discuss the wrestling recommendations via conference call June 24.
Two committee proposals impact rules which were first introduced as experimental at last fall’s All-Star Classic at University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia – a clarification of the drop-down stalling rule, and the neutral stalling rule.
The drop-down rule was originally intended to focus on a wrestler who is in the offensive position and locks or holds his opponent’s leg (or legs), and fails to take any attempt at offensive action, such as breaking down his opponent, executing an offensive move, or working back up towards the upper body to attempt to score points. In the proposed revision of this rule in place during all of last season, the referee should immediately begin a five-second count for stalling once the offensive wrestler positions himself with one or both hands below the buttocks of the defensive wrestler. The referee will stop his count when the offensive wrestler improves his position, moves his hold above the buttocks of the defensive wrestler or releases the hold. If the referee reaches the fifth count before the offensive wrestler improves his position, moves his hold above the buttocks or releases the hold, the offensive wrestler will be called for stalling. What’s more, if the wrestler on offensive lifts the defensive wrestler’s leg off the mat and both wrestlers reach the standing position, the referee will stop his five-second count. But if the offensive wrestler does not continue to attempt to return the defensive wrestler to the mat, the referee can call stalling as in the past without the five-second count.
Another stalling call, in regards to the drop-down rule, can be made by the referee if the offensive wrestler applies a hold with his hand or arm around the defensive wrestler’s waist while applying the other arm/hand below the buttocks. In that scenario, the five-second count will start and continue until the hold below the buttocks has been released.
The experimental rule involving the standing neutral position was used only in the National Wrestling Coaches Association All-Star Classic in November. After watching it being called in that event, the committee recommended that when wrestling is stopped in the neutral standing position for going out of bounds, the referee can make one of the three following calls: 1. Stalling on one or both wrestlers for leaving the wrestling area; 2. Stalling for pushing or pulling the opponent out of bounds; or 3. Wrestling action is taking place. (It should be noted that a tie-up, including an under hook with no attempt to initiate an offensive move, is not considered an offensive or defensive attack.)
“The experimental rules moving forward indicate that they were received well by the membership,” said Jeff Swenson, the committee chair and the director of athletics at Augsburg College. “We certainly have cleaned up the verbiage in the drop-down rule to help ensure that it is called properly.”
Another proposed rule change regards interlocked fingers. When wrestlers interlock fingers in the neutral position, the referee would stop the action and call it potentially dangerous, and any subsequent offenses would require the referee to call stalling on the wrestler who initiates the fingers interlocking. This rule addresses locking fingers in the neutral position as a way of controlling the opposing wrestler’s hand and stopping action, not locked hands by the offensive wrestler.
In addition, there is a proposal for changing the way for assessing points in a near-fall situation. With the new rule, two points would be awarded if the referee reaches a two count; four points would be awarded if the referee reaches a four count. Referees can now award two points when their count reaches two, and they can award three points if the count reaches five.
What’s more, the NCAA Wrestling Rules Committee has proposed some changes to how points are scored and compiled. The existing rule awarding four team points for a technical fall if the winning wrestler fails to score a near fall be eliminated. And, in another scoring change proposal, the committee has proposed experimenting with a rule in the National Wrestling Coaches Association All-Star Classic that would award three points for a takedown, presumably in an attempt to open up scoring. (Two points for a takedown has been the standard for decades; however, for about four years in the early 1960s, the NCAA had rule where the first takedown in a match was worth two points… with subsequent takedowns scored by that wrestler being worth only one point each. The rule was said to be a reaction to Oklahoma State’s “take ‘em down and let ‘em up” wrestling style of racking up takedowns quickly followed by cutting an opponent loose, which, at the time, some other teams found frustrating.)
Nothing in the press statement issued by the NCAA addressed arguably the most controversial issue at the Division I championships, where, in a 157-pound quarterfinals match, Kent State’s Ian Miller was denied a win because of a scoring error on the part of officials in his match vs. Cornell University’s Brian Realbuto… with the NCAA seeming to blame Miller’s coach Jim Andrassy for failing to raise the issue immediately, in a statement issued by the college sports organization later that day.