NCAA Rule Change Debunked

The NCAA has denied a report that they are considering a rule change after North Texas pulled off a trick play last Saturday against Arkansas. If you are one of the few who haven’t seen the play yet, you can see our coverage of the play here.

ESPN Arkansas reporter Tommy Craft tweeted Monday that the NCAA was reportedly considering a rule change as soon as this weekend to close loopholes in the rules that allowed for the fake fair catch to work.

However, on Wednesday afternoon, ESPN college football reporter Kyle Bonagura released a tweet with a statement from an NCAA spokesman.

“I’ll debunk the rumor...There is no rules change being considered,” the spokesman said.

Speculation over a possible rule change is still eminent, however. The play, dubbed “Peter Pan” by it’s creator, North Texas special teams coordinator Marty Biagi, has drawn attention to the NCAA rule book.

Unfair Acts, Article 3 of the NCAA 2018 Football Rules and Interpretations states that “an obviously unfair act not specifically covered by the rules occurs during the game” results in a penalty. The penalty is up to the discretion of the referee in determining what sees equitable, including a repeat of the down and assessment of a possible 15-yard penalty, adding a score, or suspending or forfeiting the game.

Another concern surrounding the play is what happened prior to its execution.

Speculation is surrounding whether or not it is fair for the referees to be participants in the play. The referees did not blow the whistle after punt returner, Keegan Brewer, acted as though he had completed a fair catch, leaving a hole as to why the referees didn’t fall victim to the trick as well.

As the season unfolds, there will likely not be another play like the “Peter Pan” attempted. However, the implications of the play may affect NCAA rules and standards for referees, leaving us wondering whether or not the Mean Green will be the last team to successfully execute this trick play.

Reporting by Madeline Trapp
Header image design by Clarissa Baniecki