‘Mercy rules’ among prep sports changes

Apr. 30, 2014 @ 11:05 PM

The N.C. High School Athletic Association Board of Directors met Wednesday in Chapel Hill and addressed topics including “mercy rules,” ejections and player safety.

The board approved mercy rules for basketball and football.

Under the new football rule, effective the start of the 2014 season, a running clock will be implemented when the point differential reaches 42 or more by halftime or at any point in the second half. Time would still stop after scores or when teams call timeouts. The game can also be terminated by mutual agreement.

Previously, coaches had the option to agree to a running clock in lopsided contests.

The new rule would have impacted at least eight area football games in 2013 although in some of those cases, a running clock was used anyway.

J.F. Webb lost three games by 42 points or more, Northern Vance lost two and Southern Vance and Warren County each lost one. The Eagles also posted a 46-0 win.

In basketball, a running clock will start if the point differential reaches 40 by halftime or in the second half. The running clock applies to free throws and all other dead ball situations except for coaches’ timeouts.

Mercy rules are already in place in baseball, softball and soccer.

Other board actions:

— Athletic directors will not be required to submit reports of ejections or disqualifications, but will be required to submit a confirmation email of receipt for that report, effective Aug. 1.
Any student-athlete who is ejected or disqualified from a game must complete the National Federation of State High School Associations sportsmanship course before being eligible to return to competition.

— Coaches who coach in games without completing the NFHS concussion management course will be fined $500 per game.

— The board approved a policy that student-athletes must only meet local attendance policies to be eligible for athletics and not the current statewide policy, which requires them to attend class 85 percent of the time in the previous semester at an approved high school.

— Beginning with the 2014-2015 seasons, conference soccer games can go to shootouts (penalty kicks) to settle ties after two 10-minute overtime periods. Currently, league matches end in ties following the two extra sessions.
The decision to retain draws or go to penalties will be made on a league-by-league basis.
Shootouts have previously only been used in state playoffs.

— The first day of football practice has been set for Aug. 1.

— Following suit of the three larger classifications, the playoff pod seeding system for 1-A schools has been dropped.

— A 23-match regular season limitation has been approved for volleyball.

Contact the writer at kholtzman@hendersondispatch.com.