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Subject: Response From The Ivy League Office and the NCAA

An Observer
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Date Posted: 14:39:45 11/04/21 Thu
In reply to: An Observer 's message, "Kerfuffle: 5% Probability That Eisgruber Forfeits The Win" on 13:52:43 10/25/21 Mon

What have we learned over the years from Calvin? Always go to the primary source, or as close as you can get.

So that's what I've been working on. Here's what I've got.

Nobody at the Ivy League office will say a thing about the Harvard-Princeton game. It's crickets chirping over there. Now I don't want to leap to any conclusions prematurely, but silence from any party in any controversy does not inspire confidence that they want to defend their actions. To be fair, dealing with fans is probably a part of their jobs they would be happy to discard from time to time.

The NCAA was initially very helpful, though now less so. Too early to know if this is a policy, or just busy people who have better things to do. Here's what I've been able to piece together.

(1) The NCAA is very, very familiar with what happened at the end of the Harvard-Princeton game. They are on top of this situation.

(2) The NCAA very much wants to define a timeout as granted when an onfield official begins any physical motion of his arms overhead to signal a stoppage of play. The NCAA wants this physical act to mark a timeout so that, consistent with the current kerfuffle, it can be reviewed by instant replay.

(3) Specifically, the NCAA is trying to avoid a situation where, immediately before an important play, a head coach quietly or discreetly signals for a timeout without being recognized by an official. He then waits to see whether the play is beneficial to his team before drawing attention to his request and asking for a replay.

That is clearly not what Surace was doing as the NCAA was able to describe to me in detail his exact path onto the field of play in his attempt to call timeout. Nobody disputes that Surace was trying hard to get the attention of the officials.

(4) Because of points (2) and (3) above, the NCAA supports the Ivy League's position that Surace's timeout request should not have been granted retroactively.

(5) It's much less clear whether the NCAA supports the Ivy League office issuing a formal statement on Sunday, October 24. The NCAA does not want to change any game result after the final whistle has been blown. Indeed, the NCAA was clear any statement that Harvard "should have" or "would have" won the game is inappropriate, even though we know that, in the absence of Surace being granted a timeout, the third overtime period would have ended with Harvard ahead.

(6) Despite how the NCAA wants to define the moment that a timeout has been granted (when an official starts the upward movement of his arms), there is no language in the rule book which appears to supersede Article 7, which states that the instant replay official is entitled to "correct obvious errors that may have a significant impact on the outcome of the game."

(7) Although Article 7 clearly supports what the instant replay official did in the game, the officiating crew was reprimanded and punished.

So I think we have conflicting principles here. The narrow principle is that a timeout is only granted when an onfield official signals for the timeout. The broader principle is that the NCAA wants to get calls correct and has bestowed broad authority onto the instant replay official to make that happen.

A lawyer who was given the NCAA rule book and videotape of the game would be very likely to adjudicate this conflict in favor of Princeton. The letter of the law in the rule book is Article 7, which says that the instant replay official is the last line of defense in getting calls right. His job is to "correct obvious errors."

But the NCAA also does not want to go down the slippery slope of giving coaches any more leeway in claiming that they have asked for a timeout.

That is what I have been able to discern so far. I can see both sides of the issue, but clearly one side of the argument has a stronger case.

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[> [> Subject: Re: Response From The Ivy League Office and the NCAA

ivy guy
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Date Posted: 15:31:26 11/04/21 Thu

A simple rule change would allow one coach from each team (likely the HC) to stand outside the sideline box for all 3+ OT situations.

This would allow the coach to position themselves at the line of scrimmage and more easily communicate with the line judge for a time-out.

Even this accommodation would be imperfect, but could have avoided the issue at the end of the Harvard-Princeton game.

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[> [> Subject: Re: Response From The Ivy League Office and the NCAA

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Date Posted: 15:38:05 11/04/21 Thu

I was hoping someone would take the bull by the horns. Thanks.

It sounds like the NCAA has realized that the rule, as written and read literally, does not accomplish what the NCAA now wants it to accomplish. I will give them benefit of doubt that this was an inadvertent, or at least unforeseen, drafting error on their part for not having carefully thought through all the scenarios. But given the NCAA's consistent approach of ducking responsibility, as evidenced by meting out discipline to officials who merely applied the clear language of the rule as written by the NCAA, I also expect them to phrase whatever "clarification" they issue so as to minimize their own culpability.

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[> [> [> Subject: Re: Response From The Ivy League Office and the NCAA

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Date Posted: 17:25:07 11/04/21 Thu

Doesn’t the rule as written refer to participant action on the field of play which, arguably, does not include a coach -- unseen by officials on the field of play – calling a time out? An unseen timeout “request” on the sideline outweighs actual play on the field?

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[> [> [> [> Subject: Re: Response From The Ivy League Office and the NCAA

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Date Posted: 19:42:46 11/04/21 Thu

Here is the text of the rule:

"ARTICLE 7. No other plays or officiating decisions are reviewable. However, the replay official may correct egregious errors, including those involving the game clock, whether or not a play is reviewable. This excludes fouls that are not specifically reviewable (See Article 8, following)."

Which part are you interpreting as referring solely to participant action on the field?

I read "errors including those involving the play clock" (which is a subset of all errors that are correctable by the replay official) as including errors with the clock for any reason, among them errors attributable to time out issues.

Perhaps you might argue faIlure to grant a properly called time out is not egregious, but that seems like a judgment call, not a black and white prohibition.

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[> [> [> Subject: Re: Response From The Ivy League Office and the NCAA

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Date Posted: 19:37:39 11/04/21 Thu

No, it doesn’t. Yes, it can. Read it.


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