College football rule makers recommended that kickoffs be moved up five yards to the 35-yard line and touchbacks come out to the 25-yard line instead of the 20 in an effort to reduce injuries.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Football Rules Committee recommended the changes because the governing body’s data shows that injuries occurred more during kickoffs than at other times of games. The plan is designed to encourage touchbacks with the ball downed in the end zone.
The proposal, which will be voted on Feb. 21 by the NCAA’s Playing Rules Oversight Panel after a comment period, parallels changes the National Football League made before the 2011 season. The professional league moved kickoffs to the 35, but didn’t change touchbacks.
“Without question, these changes will enhance student-athlete safety and we feel very comfortable based on the data we collected that the impact will be significant,” said Scot Dapp, chairman of the NCAA committee and athletic director at Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
The panel recommended that if a player loses his helmet on a play other than when fouled, he must sit out the next play. NCAA data showed that players lost their helmets about twice a game last season.
It also proposed new wording that allows offensive players in the tackle box who are not in motion at the snap of the ball to block below the waist without restriction. The change is designed to clarify the rule, the committee said in a statement.
Another proposal bans leaping over the offensive line on punts to get into the backfield, because players often land on their heads or shoulders, risking injury. The proposal wouldn’t allow the receiving team to jump over blockers, unless the player goes straight up or between two players.
The committee also wants officials to give kick returners additional protection to complete a catch before allowing contact by the kicking team.