The NCAA Wrestling Rules Committee is recommending that referees give the verbal command ?set? to the student-athletes before the whistle sounds and the participants begin competing.
The recommendation calls for the official to say ?set? to the wrestler in the defensive starting position then repeat it for the wrestler in the offensive starting position.
Under current rules, the official doesn?t give the verbal command and is instructed only to make sure there is a pause before blowing the whistle to start the competition. Adding the verbal command should decrease false starts and enhance the competitive equity of the match.
?There has been inconsistency from referee to referee of how long that pause should be between the people being set and the whistle blowing,? said Brad Traviolia, chair of the committee and deputy commissioner of the Big Ten Conference. ?The verbal set command should help eliminate a rolling start. This avoids one wrestler getting an advantage over another wrestler.?
The committee is also recommending that contestants wear a minimum of a suitable undergarment such as briefs, boxers, shorts or a competition singlet for weigh-ins. Previously, participants could remove all articles of clothing in hopes of making weight. Most wrestlers do wear some form of clothing before stepping on the scale, but it was never a requirement.
The committee believes this is a privacy issue for the student-athletes. There is also an increased number of the number of female athletic trainers, female doctors and female administrators who supervise the sport.
?We want the sport to become more mainstream,? Traviolia said. ?You can do that by eliminating things such as asking someone to leave the room because weigh-ins are about to be conducted. It can?t be the sport that is down the hall in the basement that people are afraid to go near. Wrestling should find ways to open up and be more inclusive in different areas of the athletics department.?
Those proposals must be approved by the Playing Rules Oversight Panel before becoming official. PROP is scheduled to meet via conference call June 3.
In another item on the agenda, the committee strengthened the registration process officials must undergo to officiate NCAA competition.
Starting with the 2009-10 season, a referee must not only sign in and view the annual NCAA rules video but also pass a test showing ample comprehension of the rules. They also must participate in an extensive in-person clinic at least once every three years.
Two clinics will be offered each fall preceding wrestling season. In 2009, these clinics will be held in Boston on September 26 and September 27 in Chicago.
?The introduction of in-person clinics and testing will promote a higher level of understanding, consistency and implementation of the rules around the country,? said NCAA National Wrestling Officiating Coordinator Pat McCormick.
The committee also is recommending a change to the overtime rules for the upcoming season to cover situations arising after a wrestler takes a second injury timeout at the beginning or during overtimes.
This change gives the non-injured wrestler who gets the choice of position after the opponent?s second injury timeout the opportunity to win in overtime by riding the opponent for one minute in any sudden-victory period, or for at least one minute in the tiebreaker periods.