What are college football ejection and suspension rules?


Every year, the NCAA slightly tweaks college football's rules and offers various points of emphasis for its officials.

In recent years, the NCAA's primary concern has been targeting. The NCAA rulebook states that "no player shall target and make forcible contact to the head or neck area of a defenseless player or contact an opponent with the crown [top] of their helmet."

The NCAA wants to remove targeting from college football, so they are disqualifying and suspending players who commit these fouls.

What are the ejection and suspension rules for college football? How does a disqualification differ from an ejection? Let's examine what the NCAA rulebook says.

What are college football's ejection rules?

Any player who commits a targeting foul will be disqualified from the game. If the targeting foul occurred in the second half, they'll also be disqualified from the first half of their team's next game. When a player is disqualified, they can remain on the sideline with their team (whereas an ejected player must leave the field of play).

If the conference appeals the next-game disqualification, the national coordinator of football officials will review the foul and decide whether the disqualification was warranted. If the disqualification is overturned, the player doesn't have to sit out the first half of the next game.

While targeting is the most talked about way to get ejected recently, there are plenty of other things that will get players and coaches tossed from a game.

Any players or coaches who participate in a fight will be ejected. If the fight takes place in the second half, they'll also be ejected for the first half of their next game.

All flagrant fouls will be punished by an ejection or disqualification, whether they occur "before the game, during the game [or] between periods." The rulebook states: "When a player is ejected from the game due to a flagrant personal foul, that team's conference shall automatically initiate a video review for possible additional sanctions before the next scheduled game."

Also, any player or coach who commits two unsportsmanlike conduct fouls in the same game will be ejected.

The NCAA rulebook specifically states that "there is no place for unfair tactics," and any kind of trickery will lead to an ejection. Here's what the NCAA is referring to when they say unfair tactics: "No player shall conceal the ball in or beneath their clothing or equipment or substitute any other article for the ball. No simulated replacements or substitutions may be used to confuse opponents. No tactic associated with substitutes or the substitution process may be used to confuse opponents. No equipment may be used to confuse opponents. Two players playing the same position may not wear the same number during the game."

If a player is wearing cleats more than a half-inch in length, they are ejected for the remainder of the game and the team's next game. If a player is "equipped with any electronic, mechanical or other signal devices for the purpose of communicating with any source," they are ejected.

"Players, squad members and game personnel (e.g., coaches, athletics trainers, managers and game officials) are prohibited from using tobacco products from the time the officials assume jurisdiction until the referee declares the game over," the rulebook states. "Penalty [is] ejection."

With most penalties, the NCAA rulebook states that "flagrant offenders shall be ejected or disqualified." This means that referees have the power to throw out players for a wide array of penalties, as long as they are deemed "flagrant offenders." For example, if a player is called for kick-catch interference, they can be ejected depending on whether the contact is deemed flagrant or excessive.

It's worth noting that an ejection or disqualification stands even if there are offsetting fouls or the opposing team declines the penalty. The player will be thrown out regardless.

The rulebook also states what must happen after a person is ejected: "A player or coach ejected from the game must leave the playing enclosure under team supervision within a reasonable amount of time after their ejection. They must remain out of view of the field of play under team supervision for the remainder of the game. A head coach ejected from the game may designate a new head coach.

"If the ejection occurs during the last game of a season, players with eligibility remaining will serve the next-game ejection during the first game of the next season for which they are eligible."

What are college football's suspension rules?

There are far more ejection rules than suspension rules in the NCAA rulebook.

With targeting such a focus, the NCAA has begun suspending repeat offenders. Any player who commits three targeting fouls in a season will receive an automatic one-game suspension. For each subsequent targeting foul, they'll receive another one-game suspension. If their third targeting foul occurs in the last game of the season, players with remaining eligibility will have to serve the suspension during the postseason or the first game of the following season.

If a player gets disqualified for targeting in the second half and must sit out the first half of the following game, they may participate in pregame warm-up activities. However, for the entirety of the first half, they must "remain under team supervision out of view of the field of play."

If a player or coach gets ejected for fighting twice in a single season, they will be suspended for the remainder of that season. If the second fight occurs in the final game of the season, they will be suspended for the first game of the following season in which they are eligible (and this suspension will be considered their first fight of that next season).

As previously mentioned, the NCAA takes it very seriously if a player's cleats are more than a half-inch long; not only is the player ejected, they'll be suspended the following game as well.

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