Players flagged for targeting may be able to remain in bench area

College football players disqualified for targeting might be able to remain on the sidelines starting with the 2020 football season.

The NCAA Football Rules Committee, which met this week in Indianapolis, recommended the rules change Friday. All rules proposals must be approved by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel, which is scheduled to discuss proposed football changes April 16.

If the rule is approved, players flagged for targeting would remain disqualified from the game. But instead of being ejected and required to head to the locker room following a targeting foul — which has been the rule since 2013 — players would be permitted to remain in the team area. All other aspects of the targeting rule would remain the same.

Last season, instant replay officials were instructed to examine all aspects of the play to confirm a targeting foul when all elements of targeting are present. If any element of targeting could not be confirmed, the instant replay official overturned the foul. The option of “stands” was removed, and the number of targeting fouls that were enforced improved the accuracy of implementation.

“In reviewing the trends in targeting, the committee is encouraged and pleased with how the rules have clearly had a positive impact on our game,” said David Shaw, chair of the committee and head coach at Stanford University. “We are encouraged by the improvements in the way our officials, our coaches and our players have worked to keep our game exciting and make it safer. We will continue to look for ways to improve our approach to targeting, but we strongly believe we are on the right path.”

The progressive penalty for targeting also remains. Players who commit three targeting fouls in the same season are subject to a one-game suspension.

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