Major college basketball, with its emphasis on physical play, has become more dangerous than football, the supervisor of Atlantic Coast Conference officials said yesterday.
The rule that allows the contact leading to many serious injuries on the court is the controversial block-charge interpretation and Maryland coach Lefty Driesell has charged that ACC officials make the wrong call on it two-thirds of the time.
"No, sir," said supervisor of officials, Norvell Neve, "We call it wrong a lot, but not that much. In the past we've done a real poor job. But this year in the ACC we've tried to put an emphasis on this."
The point of contention centers on when the defensive players moves in Clemson-Maryland game last week resulted in Maryland shooter Billy Bryant breaking his left hand as he cushioned a fall following a collision with Clemson's Stan Rome.
What makes the call so difficult, said Neve, is the difference of what consititues an offensive foul for a player with the ball and for a player without the ball.
"You don't have to give the shooter time and distance," said Neve. "When I guard a man with the ball, I have to be in a stationary position when his feet leave the ground. It's only time - who gets there first."
The NRA interpretation of the rule is that all players on offense, regardless of whether they have the ball or not, must get distance and time from the defender.
In college basketball, many coaches teach their defenders to "take the charge." It is potentially more dangerous to the shooter than the defender and the rules committee recently started awarding two free throws to a defender who "undercut" his man and was charged with the foul, whether or not the shot was good.
"It's not right, Basketball is a game of finesse, not who can run over whom," said Neve. "It's not acute any place but the major college game. It's going to get worse and worse because players are getting bigger and can jump higher."
Neve said he now favors the collegians interpreting the charge-block rule the same way as the pros. The reason, he said, is his own difficulty in judging the correct call, as was the case yesterday when he and Driesell viewed films in Driesell's office.
"I have to put it in the projector and run it through frame by frame to decide who the foul is on." Neve said, "What chance does the official have when he's making a snap-second judgement?"
Plus, Neve said, the pro interpretation does not lead to as many injuries.
Physical basketball has become a trademark of national champions for more than the past decade. Neve said Indiana's national championship team was the most physical college team he had ever seen, even with three officials working the title game.
Maryland, now 12-4 overall and 1-3 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, plays Thursday at North Carolina State and Driesell said he may rest Steve Sheppard, who is suffering from a strained Achilles tendon.
Driesell said he would not change his mind about the season-long suspension of forward-guard James (Turk) Tillman.
A review of game films showed that Lawrence Boston missed a shot just prior to halftime, thus he did not set an ACC record of 17 straight field goals Saturday against North Carolina.