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NCAA considering much needed clock change for college soccer

Rules committee to decide on proposal April 25 that would end the clock counting down and the buzzer at the end of each half in college soccer

Matt Ralph

A clock that counts down and a buzzer that goes off when the half ends could be a thing of the past in college soccer.

The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight committee is considering a proposal on April 25 to have referees keep the game time on the field beginning this fall. The proposal also includes a recommendation that “clocks in the stadium or on the field, where possible, start at zero and run up to 45 minutes, then run from 45 to 90 minutes, rather than counting down.”

“In discussions with match officials, as well as the coaching community, the opportunity to align with FIFA rules regarding added time makes common sense for our game,” John Trask, men’s soccer coach at Wisconsin and chair of the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Soccer Rules Committee stated in a news release. “Match officials worldwide are responsible for administrating the length of a soccer game, and it will be a significant enhancement to college soccer.”

Currently, instead of being administered by the referees the official game clock is the one visible to spectators. Instead of stoppage time, referees blow the whistle to stop the clock for injuries and other delays. Public address announcers will often count down the final 10 seconds of each half and overtime period.

The clock is one of a few quirks about the college game that can be turn-off for fans of the global game. Liberal substitution rules are another, but that is tied to a much larger issue impacting the college game: a regular season that only runs from August to December (the spring season is limited to half a dozen friendlies).

Maryland head coach Sasho Cirovski has been leading a movement to get the season extended to two semesters, which would spread out the number of games, allow for longer recovery between games and create a better balance of competition and academics for athletes over the course of the school year.

“College soccer is the laughingstock of the soccer world now,” Cirovski was quoted saying in a recent ESPN article about the subject.