NCAA RULE 4 – Ball in Play, Dead Ball, Out of Bounds

SECTION 2. Out of Bounds


ARTICLE 1. Player Out of Bounds




  1. A player is out of bounds when any part of his person touches anything, other than another player or game official, on or outside a boundary line (Rule 2-27-15). (A.R. 4-2-1:I and II)

  2. An out-of-bounds player who becomes airborne remains out of bounds until he touches the ground in bounds without simultaneously being out of bounds.

  3. A player who touches a pylon is out of bounds.

Approved ruling 4-2-1


  1. An inbounds ball carrier bumps into or is touched by a player or game official on the sideline. RULING: The ball carrier is not out of bounds. [Cited by 4-2-1-a]
  2. Ball carrier A1 is running inbounds near the sideline when he is contacted by a squad member of Team B, who is on the sideline. RULING: Rule 4-2-1 states a player is out of bounds when any part of his person touches anything other than a player or an official. Penalty – 15 yards or other unfair-action game administration-interference penalties (Rules 9-2-3 and 9-2-5). [Cited by 4-1-2-a, 4-1-3-a, 4-2-1-a, 9-2-3-c]
  3. Team A executes an on-side kick at the A-35. A33 is running near the sideline and steps out of bounds at the A-45. At the A-47 he leaps and bats the ball forward, and it rolls out of bounds at the A-49. RULING: Foul against Team A for free kick out of bounds at the A-47. Airborne A33 is out of bounds when he touches the ball because he has not established himself in bounds after going out of bounds. Not a foul for batting the ball forward because the ball is dead as soon as A33 touches it (Rule 4-2-3-a). [Cited by 6-2-1]

ARTICLE 2. Held Ball Out of Bounds


A ball in player possession is out of bounds when either the ball or any part of the ball carrier touches the ground or anything else that is out of bounds, or that is on or outside a boundary line except another player or game official.
See also 4-2-4-d exception.

ARTICLE 3. Loose Ball Out of Bounds



  1. A ball not in player control, other than a kick that scores a field goal, is out of bounds when it touches the ground, a player, a game official or anything else that is out of bounds, or that is on or outside a boundary line.

  2. A ball that touches a pylon is out of bounds behind the goal line.

  3. If a live ball not in player possession crosses a boundary line and then is declared out of bounds, it is out of bounds at the crossing point.

ARTICLE 4. Out of Bounds at Forward Point




  1. If a live ball is declared out of bounds and the ball does not cross a boundary line, it is out of bounds at the ball’s most forward point when it was declared dead. (A.R. 4-2-4:I) (Exception: Rule 8-5-1-a, (A.R. 8-5-1:I)).

  2. A touchdown is scored if the ball is inbounds and has broken the plane of the goal line (Rule 2-12-2) before or simultaneous with the ball carrier going out of bounds.

  3. A receiver who is in the opponent’s end zone and contacting the ground is credited with a completion if he reaches over the sideline or end line and catches a legal pass.

  4. The most forward point of the ball when declared out of bounds between the goal lines is the point of forward progress. (A.R. 8-2-1:I) (A.R. 8-5-1:VII) (Exception: When a ball carrier is airborne as he crosses the sideline, forward progress is determined by the position of the ball as it crosses the sideline. (A.R. 8-2-1:II-III and V-IX))

  5. CFO interpretation: For purposes of the Exception to 4-2-4-d, a ball carrier who strides across the sideline before first touching out of bounds is considered to be an airborne player: CFO Interpretation forward rogress with ball carrier near the Sideline (2011)

Approved ruling 4-2-4


  1. A player with one foot out of bounds behind a goal line touches a loose ball in the field of play. RULING: Ball is out of bounds and dead at its most forward point in the field of play. If this loose ball was an untouched free kick, it is a free kick out of bounds and a foul. Penalty – Five yards from the previous spot or Team B’s ball 30 yards beyond Team A’s free kick line. [Cited by 4-1-2-a, 4-2-4-a]