The Big East Conference's experiment with the six-foul rule is over for the time being, mandated out of existence by the NCAA's men's basketball rules committee.
"There is no sentiment for the six-foul rule at all" outside the three conferences that have experimented with it, said Hank Nichols, NCAA coordinator of men's basketball officials and secretary-editor of the men's basketball rules committee, which held its annual meeting last week.
The rule has been widely criticized for increasing rough inside play in the historically physical Big East Conference, for creating more fouls and more free throws than with five-foul limit and for lengthening games. Big East data for the first two seasons bears out the criticism, although the difference in fouls and free throws was down considerably last season.
Big East coaches will meet Tuesday in Newark, N.J., with Commissioner Mike Tranghese and will decide whether to appeal to the rules committee to continue the experiment or to accept the five-foul limit for the 1992-93 season, a spokesman for Tranghese said. It seems doubtful the rules committee will acquiesce to an appeal.
"We figured we experimented with it for three years and we figured, 'Give it a rest,' " Nichols said.
The main action taken at the joint meeting of the men's and women's rules committees concerned unsporting technical fouls and the continued standardization of the men's and women's rules. A year ago, the men's rules committee began counting contact technical fouls, such as the one Duke's Christian Laettner received for stepping on a Kentucky player in the East Region final, toward the five-foul disqualification limit. Next season, all unsporting technicals will count toward that limit.
"For the men, I think the changes that were not made are as significant as the changees we did make," men's rules committee chairman Gene Bartow, basketball coach at Alabama-Birmingham, said in a statement. "We made no changes in the three-point line, the free-throw lane or the shot clock. We also left alone the two-shot free throw after the 10th foul of the half."
Bill Scanlon, basketball coach at Union College and chairman of the research subcommittee, said he plans to offer a package of survey questions next year concerning foul limits. He said the rules committee may allow experimentation in 1993-94 with the proposal that gains the most support. In addition to the six-foul limit, Scanlon said the survey would propose giving two free throws and possession for each foul after the fifth and allowing a sixth foul in overtime to a player who has not fouled out in regulation.
"I guess we better give up. Nobody else wants it," said Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim, who favors the six-foul rule but was one of two Big East coaches to oppose it -- for strategic reasons -- last season.
"Our league was just as physical with five fouls. The only things you get is better defense from your best players because they aren't worried about it, and you get better basketball games because your best players are on the court."
The six-foul rule was one of four experiments allowed in 1991-92. Next season, two experimental rules will be allowed: elimination of the five-second, closely guarded rule and the stoppage of the clock after each made field goal in the final two minutes of regulation and overtime, but with no substitutions allowed on those stoppages.
In other college sports news, the NCAA announced a restructuring of its national headquarters into four divisions and promoted Tom Jernstedt, who has been in charge of running the NCAA men's basketball tournament, to deputy executive director.
Frank E. Marshall will be the group executive director of the administration and finance division; Patricia E. Bork will head championships and event management; and Steve Morgan will be in charge of membership services (including enforcement and compliance). Group executive director of the public affairs division has not been named.
Also, St. John's made it official yesterday, naming longtime assistant Brian Mahoney as its basketball coach, succeeding the retired Lou Carnesecca. Mahoney was given a multiyear contract, the first contract ever for a St. John's basketball coach. All others worked on a handshake agreement.