Rule Changes 2005

The following table lists all the rules changes adopted for 2005 (including NCAA changes introduced in 2004), plus those areas where there remain small differences between BAFA and NCAA rules.

Rule no.

Rule difference


1-2-1-a-4 * (BAFA only; overrides NCAA 6-1-1)

In BAFA rules, the kickoff will continue to take place 15 yards from halfway, to account for variations in field length.

Exception to NCAA. This rule overrides Rule 6-1-1.

1-2-1-l (BAFA)

All games will now be played on fields marked with "college" hash marks. There is no longer a provision for leagues to decide on what hash marks to use.

Align with NCAA and EFAF. All British leagues have switched to college hash marks.


A glove is a fitted covering for a hand having separate sections for each finger and thumb, without any additional material that connects any of the fingers and/or thumb, and that completely covers each finger and thumb.

NCAA 2004 change. To keep gloves with material sewn between the fingers and/or thumb out of the collegiate game. This rule would not prohibit the common practice of taping fingers together, so long as the tape is wrapped around the fingers. Rationale: Players are already skilled enough to catch the ball that they do not need the advantage that a web-type glove would provide.

1-4-9-c Exception 3

A camera, with no audio component, may be attached to cables that hang over the team area.

NCAA 2004 change. To allow television entities the opportunity to use technology that provides audiences with more unobstructed angles. Rationale: Television entities indicated that their camera angles on plays that occur at or near the sideline are often blocked by players, coaches, etc., in the team area. A camera, operated by remote control, attached to a cable over the team area provides a clearer view of such plays. It also can follow players running downfield close to the sideline.


Leagues will no longer be able to adopt regulations to allow the use of a kicking tee on field goal attempts.

Align with NCAA. No league has recently used it.


No longer a definition of a "take-a-knee play".

Align with NCAA. This rule was introduced because of a spate of fights near the end of games, but this has not been a problem in recent years. Officials will be strongly advised to eject players causing problems on plays at the end of a game (or half).


Previous BAFA rules required the teams to be in the team areas during the toss. NCAA rules say they may come to the 9-yard lines.

Align with NCAA.


NCAA tiebreaker now the only form of tiebreaker permitted.

Align with NCAA. All British leagues have adopted it.

3-1-3 * (NCAA) / 13-6-3 (BAFA)

Leagues may adopt regulations foregoing a tiebreaker in regular season games.

Exception to NCAA. Leagues may choose to allow a tie to stand in a regular season game. Rationale: a tie is often seen as a valid result.

3-2-1 * (NCAA) / 13-6-4 (BAFA)

Leagues may adopt regulations limiting a game to 12, 10 or 8 minute quarters.

Exception to NCAA. Allows leagues to choose to play shorter games. Also permits leagues to align with Europe where many leagues play 12 minute quarters.


No longer can leagues adopt a “blowout” rule.

Align with NCAA. No league has ever adopted the blowout rule so this will not be missed.

3-3-3-c, d, e *

Jurisdiction regarding suspended games.

For the purposes of this rule, a British league will be a "conference".


When timeouts are not exhausted, an official shall allow a charged team timeout when requested by any player or the head coach when the ball is dead.

NCAA 2004 change. To give an additional person the opportunity to call team timeouts. This responsibility cannot be assigned to an assistant coach and is not extended to head coaches that are not on the field. There may be occasions when the head coach may be closer to an official that any players. Allowing the head coach to request a team timeout also may enable a team to stop the clock faster in late-game situations.


The duration of the two-minute warning timeout is now only as long as it takes to inform the captains and coaches. There will not be a two-minute warning if there are working stadium clocks.

Align with NCAA.


While in the process of substitution or simulated substitution, Team A is prohibited from rushing quickly to the line of scrimmage with the obvious attempt of creating a defensive disadvantage (Delete ‘and snapping the ball’).

NCAA 2004 change. To allow a defensive team to make legal substitutions based on the substitutions made by the offensive team. Rationale: The current rule did not charge the offensive team with a foul if it rushed quickly to the line of scrimmage with the obvious attempt of creating a defensive disadvantage until the ball was snapped. Consequently, defensive teams would either have to request a team timeout or not substitute, since they could not be absolutely certain that the foul would be called.


Allow Team B (receiving team) the option of assessing the penalty for encroachment by Team A during a free kick from either the previous spot or from the end of Team B’s run.

NCAA 2004 change. To possibly avoid a re-kick when it would be of no benefit to the receiving team. Currently, if the kicking team commits an encroachment foul (more commonly referred to as offside) and the receiving team accepts the penalty, a re-kick is required. Since special teams play ranks high in injury rates (according to NCAA Injury Surveillance System data), and additional kicks increase the length of games, adding this option may enhance player safety and maintain suitable lengths of games.


Delete the possibility of pass interference against Team B when a potential Team A kicker simulates a scrimmage kick by throwing the ball high and deep.

NCAA 2004 change. To keep the receiving teams on punts from being penalized for defensive pass interference when its players could not be expected to know that the ball was actually thrown. Rationale: Players on the receiving teams, particularly those guarding the kicking-team players lined up nearest the sidelines, are instructed to block those players legally as they go downfield. Occasionally, the kicking teams will have the punter throw the ball in a manner similar to a kick in the direction of its players. Once the ball is thrown, the receiving-team players who are blocking are at risk for defensive pass interference fouls. This change would eliminate that risk. The offensive (kicking) team would still have the option of throwing the ball in a typical fake-punt play. It also could still throw the ball high and deep, but would not have the protection of possible defensive pass interference fouls.


On tries, only personal fouls against the passer, kicker, holder or snapper carry over to the kick-off.

Align with NCAA. Other penalties would have to be declined in order to accept the score.


A defensive player who is blocked into the passer may not be penalized for roughing the passer.

NCAA 2004 change. To exempt a defensive player who is blocked into the passer from being penalized for roughing the passer. Rationale: A defensive player who is blocked into the passer does not have the control necessary to avoid contact, and should not be penalized. However, the defensive player is not permitted to contact the passer in other illegal ways covered in Rule 9-1-2.


No defensive player who runs forward from beyond the neutral zone and leaps in an obvious attempt to block a field goal or try, may land on an opponent.

NCAA 2004 change. To provide kicking-team members protection from defensive players who run forward and leap while attempting to block kicks. Rationale: While recognizing that defensive players should be given the opportunity to block kicks, the committee is concerned with player safety when defenders run forward and leap in their attempts.

9-1-4-e (old) / 13-6-1 (new BAFA only) *

BAFA rules continue to require disqualification of a player not on the team roster.

Exception to NCAA. The old rule has simply been moved to Rule 13.

9-2-1 penalty

A player who commits two unsportsmanlike fouls is ejected automatically.

Align with NCAA. Guidelines to follow on how to implement this rule.


A player removing his helmet on field (except in certain situations) is considered to be an unsportsmanlike act (15 yard penalty).

Align with NCAA. Guidelines to follow on how to implement this rule.


NCAA rules do not explicitly regard dissent with an official's decision as unsportsmanlike conduct (15 yard penalty).

We will continue to regard dissent as an unsportsmanlike act even if not explicitly cited in rule. Guidelines to follow on how to implement this rule.

9-2-1-a-2 (new) / 3-4-2-b-4 (old BAFA only)

Taking the ball off the field is now an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty - 15 yards.

Align with NCAA. Previously it was a 5-yard delay of game penalty.


Spiking the ball after an apparent touchdown is no longer permitted (unsportsmanlike conduct – 15 yard penalty).

Align with NCAA. The practice of spiking the ball has died out in British football in recent years.


Players with illegal cleats (more than 1/2-inch long) will be automatically disqualified.

Align with NCAA.

9-5 (NCAA) / 13-6-1 (BAFA) *

Suspensions specified in the BAFA Disciplinary Code override provisions in NCAA rules.

Exception to NCAA.

11-2-1-d (NCAA only)

NCAA now requires the referee, if he is equipped with a microphone, to announce the number of the player committing the foul.

NCAA 2004 change. This has previously been in the case in BAFA and European officiating mechanics.

12-1-3 (Youth kitted)

Exception removed. Offensive players in the legal clipping zone may no longer block below the waist.

To remove the one legal form of blocking below the waist left in youth kitted football. Rationale: player safety.

12-1-9 (Youth kitted)

Players who persistently commit personal fouls shall be disqualified.

To provide the officials with the power to disqualify persistent offenders.

13-6-2 (BAFA only)

The referee may require game management to remove persons from the field who he believes poses a threat to the safety of persons subject to the rules or the officials, or whose behaviour is prejudicial to the orderly conduct of the game

This provides rules backing for a common sense, last resort, eventuality.

* indicates editorial changes that effectively make no change to BAFA rules