A rule change in the 2016-2017 NCAA Rule Book gave umpires another tool to assist with game management. It was initiated by multiple coaches who were concerned/upset about other coaches being allowed to argue too long or too often. That year the rules committee made it a “Point of Emphasis” that questioning umpire’s calls based purely on their judgment would not be tolerated;
Coaches should not be allowed on the field to question judgment calls. These questions disrupt the flow of the game and will result in a warning for the first violation and an ejection for each subsequent violation in the game. An important note for 13.8.4: A coach or player may on occasion, request feedback regarding the specific location of a pitch or ask a point of rule without applying Rule 13.8.4 as long as it is not made in an argumentative fashion and does not delay play. Umpires should first listen to the coach’s question and judge whether the question is made in a respectful manner. If the question is concerning feedback or a point of rule, allow the question without a warning. If not, then warn the coach.
Also added to this rewritten rule is the prohibition on questioning calls based purely on umpire’s judgment. Discussion of these calls (out/safe, strikes/balls, foul/fair, illegal/legal pitch) are examples of plays that will not be overturned, unless there is a point of rule such as a fielder being pulled off the base, whether a third strike hits the ground, or if a tag is missed.
Even in the current climate of “getting the call right” with additional information
• Strikes cannot be changed to balls
• Dead balls cannot be revived to become live and foul balls cannot be changed to fair (exception: on out-of-park home runs)
• Illegal pitches cannot be declared legal
So these and other questions as to the accuracy of an umpire’s call will no longer be allowed
• To disrupt the flow of the game
• Will result in a warning for the first violation
• Ejections for each subsequent violation in a game
Example and possible steps for the crew to follow:
• A coach stops the flow of the game to question a call on an out/safe, strike/ball, foul/fair, or illegal/legal pitch. If the coach asks a legitimate question (did she pull her foot? was the tag missed?), no warning is needed if the coach accepts the answer and allows the game to continue without further interruption.
• In the above situation, if the coach becomes argumentative after the umpire has answered the question, a warning should be issued. The calling umpire must ensure that the crew is aware of that warning.
• If a coach from the same team comes out a second time, whether argumentative or not, the calling umpire should tell the coach the game will not be interrupted again for that team’s questioning a judgment call. A warning should be issued to that team and coach. The calling umpire must ensure that the crew is aware of that warning.
• If a coach from the same team comes out again to question another judgment call, the calling umpire must ascertain quickly whether the coach has a legitimate question or is just arguing another judgment call. The coach should be ejected if the umpire ascertains that the coach is out there again to question a judgment call.
• A coach asking an umpire about a pulled foot – this is not sufficient to issue a warning, unless the coach becomes argumentative after the question has been answered. Remember, an umpire must be strong enough to admit he/she might not have seen the entire play and go for help if needed on this call. Again, if he/she goes for help and the coach becomes argumentative after the final decision, issue a warning.
• Leaving early is a good example of a judgment call which cannot be overturned. The umpire closest to the play made the call and no other umpire can give him/her any additional information. A warning can be issued for this the first time a coach comes out to question that call. A good umpire will handle the situation by calmly explaining to the coach why a warning must be issued for this (the above reasons) and that due to the rule change if the team comes out again for another judgment call which obviously cannot be changed, then an ejection will ensue.
Note: A coach or player may, on occasion, request feedback regarding the specific location of a pitch or ask a point of rule without applying Rule 13.8.4 as long as it is not made in an argumentative fashion and does not delay play.
Questioning strike zone
The prohibition on arguing balls and strikes has been changed to not allowing questioning of the strike zone to address two different issues.
• “Questioning” is more inclusive of the potential interaction between coaches and umpires.
• “Balls and strikes” has been replaced with the “strike zone” to be more restrictive.
• Conversations regarding possible checked swings fall under the balls and strikes category, whereas they do not under strike zone.
See the article Warnings in this same Game Management/Preventive for good examples found in 13.1 Warnings