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Welcome to "Ask The Official" the perfect place for you to ask about college basketball officiating in the Big 12 Conference. Each week during the 2011 conference season, Big 12 Men's Basketball Coordinator of Officials Curtis Shaw answered a question submitted by fans of the Big 12 and its member schools.

During his days on the court, Shaw was annually recognized as one of the top officials in the nation, having worked six NCAA Final Fours, including the 2009 NCAA Championship game. He was selected to officiate NCAA Tournament games each of his last 17 years as an active official, including regional games every season between 2004-09.

The submission period for the 2011 campaign has ended, but feel free to review the questions and answers below. The questions can be related to a general NCAA rule, or to a play in a specific game. While we were unable to answer every question, we hopes that you found this a great place to learn more about college basketball rules and why certain calls were made during the 2010-11 Big 12 men's basketball season.


Week of March 14, 2011


Would you explain the thought process behind the "kicking rule”? I have always been against this rule as it discriminates against a defense that is already at a disadvantage.

In my opinion, a defensive player should be able to use any part of his body to stop or retrieve the ball. I have never seen a player purposely kick a ball. There must be some validity to my concern – otherwise, why would the rule have been changed to add back 15 seconds instead of 30 seconds? I feel things would be more even if the rule was eliminated all together. Please explain the logic behind the rule and also why the change in time (15 seconds vs. 30 seconds) was made.

Submitted by Ray S., Hutchinson, Kan.


Kicking the ball is one of Dr. Naismith's original 13 rules. He wanted the game played with your feet on the floor. The kicking rule is "striking the ball intentionally with the foot or leg will result in a violation." Even though this may seem to penalize the defense, it is an original rule that the rules committee doesn't believe needs addressing.


Week of March 7, 2011


Why is the enforcement of "jump ball" so widely varied? I have seen two players rolling on the floor battling for a ball, and two players who barely make contact with the ball at the same time. Can you explain the ways that rule is expected to be enforced?
Submitted By NV, Junction City, Kan.


The jump or held ball is by rule "when an opponent places a hand or hands on the ball so firmly that control cannot be obtained without undue roughness" or "when an opponent prevents an airborne player from throwing or attempting a try and the player returns to the floor without losing possession of the ball."

These definitions lead to scenarios where a shooter may barely have the ball capped and when he returns to the floor it is a held ball or when players are grabbing and slapping the ball, but they do not have firm control no held ball is called. Applying the specific parts of the rule to the different scenarios will help all fans understand the "held ball."


Week of February 28, 2011

What is the definition of a moving screen foul? I thought you had to establish position at least a step before contact and remain until contact is finished. Shouldn't stepping into a players' path after your teammate has ran by be considered a foul? The rule seems to define this the same way as a charge - that you must establish position without movement.
Submitted by Jeffrey C., Topeka, Kansas

A legal screen may be set by an offensive or a defensive player, with or without the ball, and shall consist of a player who stays within their vertical plane with a stance no wider than their shoulders and who doesn't lean with their body or extend their hips even if their feet are stationary. A player may be facing any direction at this time.

A screener then CANNOT:
1. Set a screen OUTSIDE the visual field of a stationary opponent that does not allow this opponent a normal step to move before contact occurs.
2. Be the player that creates the contact by moving into an opponent while WITHIN this opponents visual field.
3. Take a position so close to a moving opponent WITHIN this opponents visual field that this opponent cannot avoid contact by stopping or changing direction.


Week of February 21, 2011

What are the officials responsibility regarding unsportsmanlike conduct? Specifically, vile and offensive language used by players, coaches and fans. It's announced at the beginning of every game that "threatening or obscene language" will not be tolerated, and can result in removal from the arena. How can this be addressed?
B.A., Westminster, Colorado

Officials have the ability to address any sportsmanship issues that occur during a game. A technical foul is assessed when an official hears or sees any type of unsporting act from one player to another player. We have zero tolerance for these situations. We will also assess a technical foul for vile, threatening, or demeaning language from a coach toward an official or an opposing player. We do not address a coaches actions toward players on his own team, that is the responsibility of the coaches' school.

Abusive or threatening actions by a fan directed at a coach, player, or official will be handled by either an official or the host school game management staff. The officials have the authority to request anyone be removed from the arena when these acts occur. The NCAA and the affiliated conferences have made an emphasis on bringing sportsmanship back in the game, buying a ticket does not give a fan the right to act inappropriately or to say anything they desire.


Week of February 14, 2011

What is the ruling on an offensive player using the arm to push off or gain an advantage while dribbling the ball? There seems to be very little enforcement of the rule as I understand it. I've seen players blatantly push off the defense and not get called for a foul. As much detail as you can provide on how this is monitored would be appreciated.
J.R., Columbia, Mo.

An offensive player is allowed to keep a forearm up to protect himself as long as he does not extend the arm to displace a defensive player. The defensive player must be in a legal guarding position - which means he must initially be facing the offensive player with both feet on the ground, then slide or move to maintain his position.

The defensive player does not have to be still when contact occurs. He may be moving in any direction except forward to maintain his legal guarding position. If the offensive player then creates contact with the defender using a forearm, he must stop on contact and not go "through" the defender or he has committed an offensive foul.


Week of February 7, 2011

I have two questions. First, what constitutes an intentional foul? Second, why do officials stop play to review whether a shot was a 2- or 3-point field goal? This really disrupts the flow of the game and seems to be taking a long time. I think there should be a dedicated review official (similar to football) to look at this on the fly. Has this ever been considered?
Mike, Wichita Falls, Texas

Regarding your question on intentional fouls, there are two types in college basketball. The first is contact that is purposeful and reactionary. The severity of the contact has no bearing on the call. Some examples are:

1. Contact that is not a legitimate attempt to play the ball or player, specifically designed to stop the clock or keep the clock from starting.
2. Pushing or holding a player from behind to prevent a score.
3. Fouling a player who is clearly away from the ball and is not directly involved with the play.
The second type is contact that is excessive, but non-flagrant on an opponent while playing the ball.

The second part of your question revolves around our correctable error rule. The clock is stopped to review whether a field goal is a 2-pointer or 3-pointer under this rule. However, the decision must be corrected before the second live ball. In order to do so, the officials must interrupt play immediately. A replay official would not be able to review a play in this time frame, so it must be done by the officials on the floor.


Week of January 31, 2011

I am a senior in college and have been officiating high school varsity basketball the last four years. What advice would you give to young officials who hope to call NCAA games in the future? What is the selection process for the Big 12 (and other conferences) for picking their officials?
Submitted by T.J., Fort Dodge, Iowa

A typical career path for an aspiring collegiate official begins at the high school level. You should join your local association and begin the training process they provide. Once you have officiated a few years at this level an official needs to become involved with the small college basketball leagues (NAIA, NCAA II, NCAA III, Junior College) in their area. At this point you should also begin to attend some of the summer camps and training sessions. Do some research and find the ones where you receive classroom sessions and on floor instruction. These are the places where the Division I supervisors are training and hiring their future staff members.


Week of January 24, 2011

Question on a play I had never seen before. In the Missouri vs. Texas A&M game an A&M player went up for a dunk. As he was dunking he was fouled, and the ball bounced high in the air. As part of his dunk he grabbed the rim and held it momentarily---while the ball was up in the air above the rim. The ball then came down through the basket. The referees counted the basket and gave him one free throw. Since he was holding the rim as the ball bounced high in the air above the rim, should this have been called offensive basket interference, no basket, and the shooter awarded two free throws?
Submitted by Fred, Rochester, Minn.

A player is allowed to momentarily grasp the rim on a dunk attempt to prevent injury to himself or a player underneath him. Basket interference only occurs if a player is in contact with the rim while the ball is touching the rim.

In this play, the player legally grasped the rim to regain his balance as he was fouled on the dunk attempt. The ball is still live because a shot or try doesn't end until the ball no longer has a chance to enter the basket. The player then released the rim and the ball that had bounced up in the air fell back through the basket for a legal goal, with one shot awarded for the foul.


Week of January 17, 2011

How does assigning of games work for NCAA officials? Do officials request the conferences they would like to officiate for? Does each conference have their own assignor, or does the NCAA assign for all conferences? How often are officials observed over the course of the season. Generally, what kind of feedback do they receive when they are critiqued? Thank you.
Submitted by Ann, Greenwood Village, Colo.

Each Division I Conference is responsible for assigning officials to their respective games. The conference hires a coordinator of officials and that coordinator is in charge of hiring a staff and assigning the officials for those contests. Coordinators may assign for one league or for multiple leagues. The officials also may work games in multiple leagues.

Officials are observed by the respective leagues and the number of times they are observed varies by conference. In the Big 12, we have an observer at every single game. This person files a postgame report on all of the officials' performances and we have people who watch the game records after select contests to also evaluate and grade the officials. In addition to the significant in-depth study by the conference observers, the NCAA also has regional advisors who will watch selected games and supply a report to the conference. Officials then receive feedback from the coordinator about their positioning, rules knowledge, and play calling on a regular basis.

After the in-season review and study, the conference coordinators will conduct a postseason review with each member of the staff at the conclusion of the season.


Week of January 10, 2011

In the Kansas State at Oklahoma State game on January 8, Jamar Samuels of KSU was assessed a technical foul after arguing a call. The Cowboys' Keiton Page was on the bench when the foul was called. Page entered the game and shot the technical free throws for OSU. Is this allowed?
Submitted by Jason, Oklahoma City, Okla.

Good question, Jason. This is a permissible way for a team to shoot free throws. In the NCAA Rules Book, Rule 8, Section 2, Article 4 states that "free throws awarded because of any technical foul will be attempted by a player on the offended team, including an eligible substitute, who shall be designated by the head coach or captain of the offended team. The same player must shoot both free throws."

This rule allowed Keiton Page to enter the game as an eligible substitute and attempt the free throws. Thank you for your submission.
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