NCAA Rule 9 – Conduct of Players and Others Subject to the Rules

SECTION 2. Unsportsmanlike Conduct Fouls


ARTICLE 1. Unsportsmanlike Acts


There shall be no unsportsmanlike conduct or any act that interferes with orderly game administration on the part of players, substitutes, coaches, authorised attendants or any other persons subject to the rules, before the game, during the game or between periods. Infractions for these acts by players are administered as either live-ball or dead-ball fouls depending on when they occur. (A.R. 9-2-1:I-X)

  1. Specifically prohibited acts and conduct include:

    1. No player, substitute, coach or other person subject to the rules shall use abusive, threatening or obscene language or gestures, or engage in such acts that provoke ill will or are demeaning to an opponent, to game officials or to the image of the game, including but not limited to:

      1. Pointing the finger(s), hand(s), arm(s) or ball at an opponent, or imitating the slashing of the throat.

      2. Taunting, baiting or ridiculing an opponent verbally.

      3. Inciting an opponent or spectators in any other way, such as simulating the firing of a weapon or placing a hand by the ear to request recognition.

      4. Any delayed, excessive, prolonged or choreographed act by which a player (or players) attempts to focus attention upon himself (or themselves).

      5. An unopposed ball carrier obviously altering stride as he approaches the opponent’s goal line or diving into the end zone.

      6. A player removing his helmet after the ball is dead and before he is in the team area (Exceptions: Team, media or injury timeouts; equipment adjustment; through play; between periods; and during a measurement for a first down).

      7. Punching one’s own chest or crossing one’s arms in front of the chest while standing over a prone player.

      8. Going into the stands to interact with spectators, or bowing at the waist after a good play.

      9. Intentionally removing the helmet while the ball is alive.

      10. Dead-ball contact fouls such as pushing, shoving, striking, etc. that occur clearly after the ball is dead and that are not part of the game action. (A.R. 9-2-1:X)

      11. After the ball is dead, using forcible contact to push or pull an opponent off the pile. (A.R. 9-2-1:XI)

    2. PENALTY –
      Live-ball fouls by players: 15 yards [S27]. Live-ball fouls by non-players and all dead-ball fouls: 15 yards from the succeeding spot [S7 and S27]. Automatic first down for fouls by Team B if not in conflict with other rules. Flagrant offenders, if players or substitutes, shall be disqualified [S47].


    3. After a score or any other play, the player in possession immediately must return the ball to an official or leave it near the dead-ball spot. This prohibits:

      1. Kicking, throwing, spinning or carrying (including off of the field) the ball any distance that requires an official to retrieve it.

      2. Spiking the ball to the ground (Exception: A forward pass to conserve time (Rule 7-3-2-f)).

      3. Throwing the ball high into the air.

      4. Any other unsportsmanlike act or actions that delay the game.

    4. PENALTY –
      Dead-ball foul. 15 yards from the succeeding spot [S7 and S27]. Automatic first down for fouls by Team B if not in conflict with other rules. Flagrant offenders, if players or substitutes, shall be disqualified [S47].

  2. Other prohibited acts include:

    1. During the game, coaches, substitutes and authorised attendants in the team area may not be on the field of play or outside the 25-yard lines to protest an officiating decision or to communicate with players or officials without permission from the referee unless legally entering or leaving the field (Exception: Rules 1-2-4-f, 3-3-4-d, 3-3-8-c, and 3-5-1).


    2. No disqualified person shall be in view of the field of play (Rule 9-2-6).

    3. No person or mascot subject to the rules, except players, officials and eligible substitutes, shall be on the field of play or end zones during any period without permission from the referee. If a player is injured, attendants may come inbounds to attend him, but they must obtain recognition from an official.

    4. No substitute(s) may enter the field of play or end zones for purposes other than replacing a player(s) or to fill a player vacancy(ies). This includes demonstrations after any play (A.R. 9-2-1:I).

    5. Persons subject to the rules, including bands, shall not create any noise that prohibits a team from hearing its signals (Rule 1-1-6).

  3. PENALTY –
    Dead-ball foul. 15 yards from the succeeding spot [S7 and S27]. Automatic first down for fouls by Team B if not in conflict with other rules. Flagrant offenders, if players or substitutes, shall be disqualified [S47].

Approved ruling 9-2-1

  1. Team B scores a touchdown on a kickoff return, and substitutes from the Team B area, with no intention of entering the game, run to the end zone to congratulate the ball carrier. RULING: Unsportsmanlike act. Penalty — 15 yards, enforced on the try or the succeeding kick off. Officials should note the numbers of the offending players, for possible disqualification later in the game upon committing a second unsportsmanlike conduct foul ( 9-2-1-a-Penalty). [Cited by 9-2-1, 9-2-1-b-4]
  2. Third and 15 at the B-20. Eligible A88 catches a pass at the B-18 and heads for the goal line. At the B-10 he goes into a “goose step” and continues this action as he crosses the goal line. RULING: Live-ball foul for unsportsmanlike conduct. Fifteen-yard penalty enforced at the spot of the foul, which is the B-10, and repeat third down. Third and 20 at the B-25. [Cited by 9-2-1]
  3. Second and five at the B-40. Back A22 takes a backward pass from the quarterback, circles right end, and heads for the goal line. Guard A66, who had pulled out to lead the play, legally blocks B90 to the ground and then stands over him at the B-30 taunting and screaming obscenities. This draws a flag from the head linesman, when A22 is at the B-10 before continuing into the end zone. RULING: Live-ball foul for unsportsmanlike conduct. Fifteen-yard penalty enforced at the spot of the foul, which is the B-30, and repeat second down. Second and 10 at the B-45. [Cited by 9-2-1]
  4. Third and 15 at the B-20. Eligible A88 catches a pass at the B-18 and heads for the goal line. Very close to the goal line he dives into the end zone, with no Team B player closer than about 10 yards. The field judge is uncertain of the exact spot where A88 started his diving action. RULING: Foul for unsportsmanlike conduct. Administer as a dead-ball foul. The touchdown counts and the penalty is enforced on the try or the succeeding kickoff. [Cited by 9-2-1]
  5. Second and seven at the B-30. Nose guard B55 is lined up in the neutral zone at the snap. Back A22 takes the ball on a quick play up the middle, bursts into the open, and at the B-10 he turns around and prances backward into the end zone. The head linesman and the line judge both have flags for the offside foul, and the back judge drops his flag for the action by A22. RULING: Offsetting fouls, repeat the down. Second and seven at the B-30. [Cited by 9-2-1]
  6. First and 10 at the 50. The quarterback pitches out to running back A44 who circles right end and races toward the goal line. The line judge trailing the play flags linebacker B57 for screaming obscenities at him, complaining that he was held by the tight end. A44 scores a touchdown. RULING: Live-ball unsportsmanlike conduct against B57. The penalty carries over to either the try or the kickoff, at the option of Team A. [Cited by 9-2-1]
  7. Third and 15 at the A-45. A12 drops back to pass and is sacked by tackle B77 for a 10-yard loss. B77 leaps to his feet, beats his chest, stands over A12 and taunts him, and showboats to the crowd, drawing flags from the referee and the line judge. RULING: Dead-ball unsportsmanlike conduct by B77. Fifteen-yard penalty at the dead-ball spot plus automatic first down. First and 10 for Team A at the 50. [Cited by 9-2-1]
  8. Safety B33 intercepts a pass at the B-10 and returns for a touchdown. As he is coming down the sideline covering the play the line judge drops his flag after he runs into the Team B head coach who is just on the field of play near the B-40. RULING: Although this is a foul that takes place while the ball is alive, it is treated as a dead-ball foul because it is committed by a non-player. The touchdown counts and the 15-yard penalty is enforced on the try or the succeeding kickoff. [Cited by 9-2-1]
  9. Second and five at the A-45. Ball carrier A33 breaks out into the open and has a clear path to the goal line. At the B-2 he suddenly makes a sharp left turn and trots along the B-2 as the Team B players begin to catch up to him. He then carries the ball into the end zone. A33 next runs to the stands and begins to exchange “high-fives” with the fans. RULING: No score. A33 is charged with two fouls for unsportsmanlike conduct, one live-ball and the other dead-ball. Both 15-yard penalties are enforced and A33 is ejected from the game. First and 10 for Team A at the B-32 (Rule 9-2-6). [Cited by 9-2-1]
  10. After the ball carrier is tackled, A55 and B73 engage in a scuffle such that officials have to separate them and throw flags. Both A55 and B73 are charged with dead-ball personal fouls. RULING: Offsetting dead-ball fouls. Each player is also charged with an unsportsmanlike conduct foul which counts toward the two such fouls leading to automatic disqualification. The referee announces either the first or second unsportsmanlike conduct foul for A55 and B73. [Cited by 9-2-1, 9-2-1-a-1-j]
  11. During the play, the ball carrier fumbles and several players dive for the ball. B55 grabs A33 and slings him off the pile. RULING: B55 is charged with a foul for unsportsmanlike conduct. 15 yards and automatic first down. The referee announces that this is either the first or second unsportsmanlike conduct foul against B55. If it is the second, B55 is disqualified from the game. [Cited by 9-2-1-a-1-k]

ARTICLE 2. Unfair Tactics




  1. No player shall conceal the ball in or beneath his clothing or equipment or substitute any other article for the ball.

  2. No simulated replacements or substitutions may be used to confuse opponents. No tactic associated with substitutes or the substitution process may be used to confuse opponents (Rule 3-5-2-e). (A.R. 9-2-2:I-V)

  3. No equipment may be used to confuse opponents (Rule 1-4-2-d).

  4. PENALTY –
    [a-c] — Live-ball foul. 15 yards from the previous spot [S27]. Automatic first down for fouls by Team B if not in conflict with other rules. Flagrant offenders shall be disqualified [S47].

  5. No player may play with cleats more than ½-inch in length (Rule 1-4-7-d).

  6. PENALTY –
    Disqualification for the remainder of the game and the team’s next game [S27 and S47]. Administer as a dead-ball foul; penalty enforced at the succeeding spot. Automatic first down for fouls by Team B if not in conflict with other rules.Team timeout.
    VIOLATION –
    Rules 3-3-6 and 3-4-2-b[S23, S3 or S21].

  7. The referee will notify (in writing) his assigning agent of all disqualifications for illegal cleats. The assigning agency becomes responsible for implementation of the penalty.

Approved ruling 9-2-2


  1. After the ball is ready for play, Team A goes into a formation with two players split wide on both sides of the snapper and two other Team A linemen adjacent to the snapper. No more than four players are legally in the backfield. Team A sends in two substitutes, who take positions on the line of scrimmage adjacent to the two split offensive linemen on the opposite side of the field from their team bench. This leaves Team A with nine players on the line of scrimmage and four backfield players all legally in position. Immediately and before the snap, two Team A linemen nearest their team’s bench leave the field and are off at the snap. Seven players are on the line of scrimmage, five of whom are Team A linemen numbered 50 to 79. RULING: Penalty — 15 yards from the previous spot This is a simulated replacement of a player to confuse the opponents. [Cited by 9-2-2-b]
  2. On fourth down at Team B’s 12-yard line, A1 enters the field with a kicking shoe while his 11 teammates are in the huddle. A1 kneels and measures the distance from the neutral zone to the kicking spot. While his teammates are leaving the huddle, A1 leaves the field with the shoe. Team A quickly runs a play from scrimmage. RULING: Team A foul. Penalty — 15 yards from the previous spot. There shall be no simulated replacement of a player to confuse the opponents, and a player who communicates must remain in the game for one down. [Cited by 9-2-2-b]
  3. A1 leaves the field of play during a down. Team A huddles with 10 players. Substitute A12 enters and A2 simulates leaving the field, but sets near the sideline for a “hide-out” pass. RULING: Penalty — 15 yards from the previous spot. This is a simulated replacement of a player to confuse opponents. [Cited by 9-2-2-b]
  4. While a team is legally set to attempt a field goal, the potential holder for the kick goes toward his team area asking for a shoe. A shoe is thrown on the field and the player, in motion toward his team area, turns toward the goal line. The ball is snapped to the player in the kicking position, who throws a pass to the player who had turned upfield after asking for a shoe. RULING: Penalty — 15 yards from the previous spot. [Cited by 9-2-2-b]
  5. Team A is lined up in scrimmage kick formation and has been set for one second. One of the offensive backs shouts to and motions to A40, the blocker on the right wing, to get off the field. At the snap, A40 is in legal motion toward his sideline. A40 turns downfield and becomes a pass receiver. RULING: Penalty — 15 yards from the previous spot. This is a tactic associated with the substitution process to deceive opponents. [Cited by 9-2-2-b]

ARTICLE 3. Unfair Acts


The following are unfair acts:

  1. A team refuses to play within two minutes after ordered to do so by the referee.

  2. A team repeatedly commits fouls for which penalties can be enforced only by halving the distance to its goal line.

  3. An obviously unfair act not specifically covered by the rules occurs during the game. (A.R. 4-2-1:II) (A.R. 9-2-3:I)

PENALTY –
The referee may take any action he considers equitable, which includes directing that the down be repeated, assessing a 15-yard penalty, awarding a score, or suspending or forfeiting the game [S27].

Approved ruling 9-2-3

  1. After the ball is ready for play and the umpire is in his regular position, Team A quickly replaces some players with substitutes, gets set for the required one second and snaps the ball. The umpire is attempting to get to the ball to allow the defense to match up, but he is unable to prevent the snap. RULING: The play is shut down, the game clock is stopped and the defense is allowed to substitute in response to Team A’s late substitutions. No foul. The play clock is set to 25 seconds and starts on the ready-for-play signal. The game clock starts on the ready-for-play signal or the snap, depending on its condition when play was stopped. The referee informs the Team A head coach that any subsequent such actions will result in a foul for unsportsmanlike conduct (Rule 3-5-2). [Cited by 9-2-3-c]

ARTICLE 4. Contacting an Official


Persons subject to the rules (Rule 1-1-6) shall not intentionally contact a game official forcibly during the game.
PENALTY –
Administer as a dead-ball foul. 15 yards from the succeeding spot. Automatic first down for fouls by Team B if not in conflict with other rules. Automatic disqualification [S7, S27 and S47].

ARTICLE 5. Game Administration and Sideline Interference


While the ball is alive and during the continuing action after the ball has been declared dead:

  1. Coaches, substitutes and authorised attendants in the team area must be behind the coaching line.

  2. PENALTY –
    Administer as a dead-ball foul.

    First infraction: Warning for sideline interference. No yardage penalty. [S15]

    Second and third infractions: Delay of game for sideline interference, five yards from the succeeding spot. [S21 and S29]

    Fourth and subsequent infractions: Team unsportsmanlike conduct for sideline interference, 15 yards from the succeeding spot. Automatic first down for fouls by Team B if not in conflict with other rules. [S27 and S29]

  3. Physical interference with an official is a foul charged to the team for unsportsmanlike conduct. (A.R. 9-2-5:I)

  4. PENALTY –

    Administer as a dead-ball foul. Team unsportsmanlike conduct. 15 yards from the succeeding spot. Automatic first down for fouls by Team B if not in conflict with other rules. [S27]

Approved ruling 9-2-5

  1. On the opening kickoff, B22 catches the kick at his goal line and returns the ball down the sideline on Team B’s side of the field. As he moves down the sideline officiating the play, the side judge either runs into or must run around a Team B coach or squad member in the restricted area (“the white”). B22 is driven out of bounds at the A-20. RULING: Either situation is physical interference with an official during the play. No warning. Team B foul for unsportsmanlike conduct administered as a dead-ball foul. After the 15-yard penalty, Team B will have first and 10 at the A-35. [Cited by 9-2-5-b]

ARTICLE 6. Disqualified players and Coaches



  1. Any coach, player or identified squad member in uniform who commits two unsportsmanlike conduct fouls in the same game shall be disqualified.

  2. A player disqualified from the game (Rule 2-27-12)must leave the playing enclosure (Rule 2-31-5) under team supervision within a reasonable amount of time after his disqualification. He must remain out of view of the field of play under team supervision for the duration of the game.

  3. A player serving a first-half suspension due to his disqualification in the team’s previous game may participate in pre-game warm-up activities. During the first half he must remain out of view of the field of play under team supervision.

  4. A coach disqualified from the game must leave the playing enclosure within a reasonable amount of time after the disqualification and must remain out of view of the field of play for the remainder of the game.
  5. A head coach disqualified from the game may designate a new head coach.

ARTICLE 7. Use of Tobacco


Players, squad members and game personnel (e.g., coaches, athletics trainers, managers and game officials) are prohibited from using tobacco products from the time the officials assume jurisdiction until the referee declares the game over.
PENALTY –
—Disqualification. Dead-ball foul. 15 yards at the succeeding spot [S27 and S47].