NCAA Water Polo Rules Committee Releases January 2011 Report

NCAA Water Polo Rules Committee Releases January 2011 Report

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Water Polo Rules Subcommittee met in January and has released a report of the group's discussion. 

The subcommittee met January 18 in Indianapolis and is using this opportunity to inform the membership of its main topics of discussion and to communicate experimental rules, points of emphasis and future considerations.

This report has bearing on both the varsity and collegiate club ranks as all collegiate water polo (NCAA, National Collegiate Club) uses NCAA rules, with the exception of period length, for governing the sport.


Rules Subcommittee members expressed interest for institutions that have open dates available to use experimental rules during their nontraditional seasons. The Rules Subcommittee asked Kirk Everist, University of California, Berkeley; Felix Mercado, Brown University; and Matt Anderson, University of Michigan, to collect data and report back to the subcommittee on the experimental rules that will be used in select, predetermined contests. Some of the experimental rules that have been considered for use during the nontraditional season include:

  • Increasing the length of an exclusion to 35 seconds;
  • Moving the penalty shot to 4-meters;
  • Moving the direct shot line back to 6-meters;
  • Forbidding the defender who commits a foul to raise his or her arms to field block a free pass or a direct shot; and
  • Eliminating the restriction on the goalkeeper from crossing mid-pool.

This list does not include all potential experimental rules and should not imply that any or all of the rules will be adopted.


The committee accepted recommendations from Bob Corb, national coordinator of officials, to clarify a few of the existing points of emphasis (POE), which appear as shaded text. The clarifications are effective immediately. Of particular interest is referee mechanics to signal when the ball is in play (see POE No. 7).

Subsequent to the meeting slight revisions were made to POE No. 8 based on input from the national evaluators and approved by the subcommittee.  Specifically, the changes from what was distributed January 20 are reflected with strikethrough and the new text underlined in the fourth sentence:  A foul should only be called when the defender commits a foul and the offensive player is in danger of losing the ball or is no longer able to play the ball.

The current revised list of Points of Emphasis is available online.


In an effort to help create a more easily understood and fan friendly game, the subcommittee encourages coaches and commissioners to discuss the experimental rules and forward supplementary ideas or proposals to any rules subcommittee member. Please remember that a survey will be available in December seeking opinions on items the subcommittee is considering as improvements to raise interest in the collegiate water polo game. Although proposed rules can pertain to any element of the game, the subcommittee is looking most closely at suggested rules that would impact the game in the following ways: reduce the number of fouls called, encourage player mobility, decrease physicality, increase scoring opportunities and make the game more spectator-friendly.

4.   OTHER.

a)   The subcommittee approved the following mission statement to guide its actions.

“The committee’s purpose is to govern the playing rules of collegiate water polo by:

  • Acknowledging the traditions and image of the sport;
  • Soliciting input from the various college constituencies;
  • Examining existing regulations and making necessary modifications to create safe, practical, concise and enforceable rules; and
  • Influencing the long term vision and direction of NCAA water polo.”

b)   Steve Rotsart agreed to serve as active official to the Rules Subcommittee an additional year to coincide with the two-year rules book publishing cycle.

c)   The subcommittee appeals to institutions to consider submitting injury data to DATALYSCENTER, the NCAA Injury Surveillance Program, so that enough data can be compiled to benefit the subcommittee when considering rule proposals.

Thank you for your time and attention to this report. If you have any feedback or questions regarding the water polo rules process or anything in this report, please direct your communication to Tom Whittemore, Rules Subcommittee chair, or Teresa Smith, NCAA staff liaison.

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