The NCAA rules committee yesterday announced it has approved the use of the three-point field goal for all college basketball games next season, and a provision for limited use of television replays in what might be called "The Heathcote Rule."
The three-point arc, which will be 19 feet 9 inches from the center of the basket, is an outgrowth of what many Division I coaches felt was increasing and difficult-to-control rough play underneath the basket. The new rules will be used at all levels of NCAA competition, including postseason tournaments.
"The rules committee felt this was the time to do it," Ed Steitz, editor of NCAA rules, said of the three-point shot. "It's been researched for five years . . . It's an attempt to bring the trees away from the basket, eliminate cluttering in the lane and minimize the rough post play."
Television replays will not be used in relation to referees' judgment calls. Instead, the decision to use replays strictly for timing and scoring disagreements is largely a result of the malfunctioning clock fiasco that added 15 seconds to the NCAA tournament Midwest regional semifinal between Kansas and Michigan State.
Kansas eventually tied the game with 10 seconds left and won in overtime. Michigan State Coach Jud Heathcote, afraid he would draw a technical foul for leaving the coach's box, did not immediately go to the official timer to complain.
"That was the catalyst," Steitz admitted.
Also, the rules committee decided coaches will not be charged with a technical foul for going to the scorers' table to point out scoring and timing errors.
The NCAA rules committee met in Dallas yesterday and 10 of the 12 members voted on the rules changes. A two-thirds majority vote was necessary to adopt the rules, but Steitz would not reveal the exact vote.
The coaches surveyed by the rules committee were overwhelmingly pleased with the 45-second clock that was used throughout this season. And while there was no such mandate, Steitz said last week, to adopt a three-point shot there was little opposition to using a uniform three-point distance.
"The NBA has it [23 feet 9 inches from the middle of the basket], the Olympics has it. Some high schools have been using it," Steitz said. "We only make changes in the rules if it's good for the game. . . . Some were reluctant to do it because the NBA has it, but that is not logical in [the rules committee's] thinking."
Over the last five years, several conferences have experimented with three-point shots; 11 leagues, including the Western Athletic Conference and the Pacificic Coast Athletic Conference, used one this past season. And in 1983, the Atlantic Coast Conference experimented with a three-point shot from 17 feet 9 inches from the center of the basket. That season, Virginia's scoring average shot up 13 points from the previous season.
Maryland Coach Lefty Dreisell said yesterday he didn't like this new three-point shot, either. "But I guess I've got to go out and find me a long-range shooter," he said. "Maybe I've just been in the game too long and don't like something that really changes it. But it's not going to upset me that much. We'll adjust."
When told the three-point shot was adopted to help alleviate rough low-post play, Driesell said: "I don't believe it will help."
But he was strongly in favor of television replays. "In that [Michigan State-Kansas] game they should have used television or something," Driesell said. "That rule, I like."
So, apparently, does Georgetown Coach John Thompson. Last week in Dallas Thompson said: "It's ridiculous for us not to use television in certain circumstances. We live in a scientific age and our sport seems to be the only one which is not recognizing that."