College football will move kickoffs up five yards to the 35-yard line and bring touchbacks out to the 25-yard line instead of the 20 beginning next season in an effort to reduce injuries, the sports’ governing body said.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Football Rules Committee recommended the changes this month after data showed 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 new rule, which was passed Feb. 21 by the NCAA’s Playing Rules Oversight Panel, parallels changes the National Football League made before the 2011 season. The professional league moved kickoffs to the 35, but didn’t change touchbacks.
Other rules changes that will take effect next season:
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.
Offensive players between the tackles when the ball is snapped and who are not in motion are allowed to block below the waist legally and without restriction. The change was made to clarify an existing rule, the NCAA said.
Players can no longer leap over the offensive line on punts to get into the backfield, because players often land on their heads or shoulders, risking injury. The receiving team can’t jump over blockers, unless the player goes straight up or between two players.