The 2023 NCAA Championships at Tulsa's BOK Center (photo courtesy of Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
The NCAA Wrestling Rules Committee at its annual meeting in Indianapolis this week recommended making all takedowns worth 3 points, effective with the 2023-24 season.
All rule proposals must be approved by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel. The panel is scheduled to discuss wrestling recommendations during a videoconference June 8.
Wrestling Rules Committee members think increasing the scoring for takedowns by an additional point will enhance the sport by rewarding offensive actions and risk-taking.
The committee also agreed there was a need to create a more appropriate point differential between takedowns and escapes and incentivize offense when competitors are in the neutral position.
Committee members also voted to eliminate the hand-touch takedown. The committee agreed that demonstrating control is an important component of college wrestling, so it made sense to eliminate the hand-touch takedown in favor of a single requirement for all takedowns.
To help balance the proposed takedown scoring rule, the committee proposed that the requirements for the top wrestler be modified to include a requirement to work toward a near fall or pin and also recommended that a 3-point near-fall scoring component be added.
Currently, officials can award 2 or 4 points for near falls. The rationale for the proposal includes giving wrestlers a chance to be more creative in attempting to earn points.
"Wrestling is in a time of need to change," said John Hangey, committee chair and head coach at Rider. "We felt like something this significant would give a boost to the sport for viewership for the average fan and for longtime traditional fans. It will increase excitement and scoring. It will change tactics for coaches and kids."
Committee members know that suggesting a change of this magnitude could lead to some negative feedback from the membership.
"When the 3-point line was implemented in basketball, everyone hated it at first," Hangey said. "We are trying to evolve the sport of wrestling. We want to bring more fans to the sport without impacting the integrity of the sport."
Riding point modification
The committee proposed changing the way wrestlers can earn riding time. Under the recommendation, a riding time point could be awarded only if the wrestler in the top position has both a minute of time advantage and has scored near-fall points during the match.
Again, committee members think this rule will create more action from the wrestler in the top position.
Committee members recommended adding a change to the coach's video review request.
If approved, the rule would provide the referee with the authority to confirm or overturn all calls or missed calls during a video review challenged sequence. For coach challenges, the sequence is described as the time from the alleged error until the match is, or should have been, stopped by the referee.
"In this day and age, scrambling is a big part of wrestling," Hangey said. "We have situations where did the wrestler score a takedown, or did he not? There is a lot of action that happens after that takedown that are connected without the action stopping. It was important that we allow the reviewing of a sequence starting at a specific incident."
* The first medical forfeit of a tournament would count as a loss on the wrestler's record. An exception would be if the medical forfeit occurs immediately after an injury default in a tournament.
* The penalty for a delayed coach's video review challenge request would be changed to a loss of the video review. Currently, it is a control-of-mat violation, and 1 point is deducted from the team total.
* Any true placement matches conducted in an event would not alter the final team score.
* Officials could let action continue after penalizing an illegal hold and not require a stoppage after imminent scoring finishes when the safety of wrestlers is not in danger.
* The current mandatory five-second count for the waist and ankle ride would be expanded to include all situations in which the top wrestler grasps the bottom wrestler's ankle.
* Weigh-in times across all competition types would be standardized to two hours or sooner before the start of competition. Currently, tournament weigh-ins are two hours or sooner, but dual meet weigh-ins are permitted only one hour or sooner before the start of competition.
* Weight certification for all schools would be permitted to start Sept. 1.
* The rule limiting facial hair to no longer than half an inch would be eliminated.