Wrestling Rules Committee recommends making two experimental rules permanent

Updated: April 24, 2015

The NCAA Wrestling Rules Committee recommended that two experimental rules to decrease stalling become permanent starting with the 2015-16 season.

The committee, which met April 13-15 in Indianapolis, endorsed a drop-down rule and the neutral position stalling rule with some tweaks so referees will have a clearer understanding of how both should be applied.

All rules proposals made by the committee must be approved by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel, which will discuss the wrestling recommendations via conference call June 24.

In the recommendation for the drop-down rule, the referee should immediately begin a five-second count for stalling once the offensive wrestler positions himself with one or both hands below the buttocks of the defensive wrestler. The referee will stop his count when the offensive wrestler improves his position, moves his hold above the buttocks of the defensive wrestler or releases the hold.

If the referee reaches the fifth count before the offensive wrestler improves his position, moves his hold above the buttocks or releases the hold, the offensive wrestler will be called for stalling.

Additionally, if the offensive wrestler lifts the defensive wrestler’s leg off the mat and both wrestlers reach the standing position, the referee will stop his five-second count. But if the offensive wrestler does not continue to attempt to return the defensive wrestler to the mat, the referee can call stalling as in the past without the five-second count.

Another stalling call, in regards to the drop-down rule, can be made by the referee if the offensive wrestler applies a hold with his hand or arm around the defensive wrestler’s waist while applying the other arm/hand below the buttocks. In that scenario, the five-second count will start and continue until the hold below the buttocks has been released.

The experimental rule involving the standing neutral position was used only in the National Wrestling Coaches Association All-Star Classic in November.

After watching it being called in that event, the committee recommended that when wrestling is stopped in the neutral standing position for going out of bounds, the referee can make one of the three following calls:

  • Stalling on one or both wrestlers for leaving the wrestling area.
  • Stalling for pushing or pulling the opponent out of bounds.
  • Wrestling action is taking place. (It should be noted that a tie-up, including an under hook with no attempt to initiate an offensive move, is not considered an offensive or defensive attack.)

“The experimental rules moving forward indicate that they were received well by the membership,” said Jeff Swenson, the committee chair and the director of athletics at Augsburg College. “We certainly have cleaned up the verbiage in the drop-down rule to help ensure that it is called properly.”

Other rules recommendations made by the committee include:

  • Awarding two points for a near fall if the referee reaches a two count. Four points would be awarded if the referee reaches a four count. Referees can now award two points when their count reaches two, and they can award three points if the count reaches five.
  • Experimenting with a rule in the National Wrestling Coaches Association All-Star Classic that would award three points for a takedown.
  • Separating the “control of mat area” and “questioning the referee” penalties in the penalty chart. If a coach leaves the restricted area, the penalty structure would be: a warning on the first offense; loss of a team point in the event standings/score on the second offense; and loss of two team points and ejection on the third offense.
  • When wrestlers interlock fingers in the neutral position, the referee would stop the action and call it potentially dangerous, and any subsequent offenses would require the referee to call stalling on the wrestler who initiates the fingers interlocking.
  • Eliminating the four team points awarded for a technical fall if the winning wrestler fails to score a near fall.
  • When the offensive wrestler gets set in the referee’s position, the referee would wait a minimum of one second after saying, “set,” before sounding the whistle for wrestling to begin.
  • The committee had a thorough dialogue about using dual meet scoring in individual tournaments instead of tournament scoring. Committee members feel a move to dual scoring would be fan-friendly and easier to follow. The committee will study the issue further to make sure there are no unintended consequences, if a change is made in the future.