NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approves ‘optional technology rules’ for 2024 season

Coach-to-player communications through helmets will be on the way in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

The NCAA announced Friday its Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved Thursday “optional technology rules” effective for the 2024 season. Among them is a long-awaited change already prevalent in the NFL: coaches can communicate to a player through helmet technology.

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According to the NCAA, “each school will have the option to use coach-to-player communications through helmets to one player on the field,” and that player “will be identified by having a green dot on the back midline of the player’s helmet.”

The communication will turn off “with 15 seconds remaining on the play clock or when the ball is snapped, whichever comes first,” according to the NCAA.

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This marks a highly anticipated move within college football bringing it closer to the professional game. Many coaches have called for helmet technology to be implemented at the college level, and teams experimented with it if they so chose during bowl season in 2023. It will be a welcomed change in 2024.

It’s significant that college football will allow coach-to-player communications through helmets next season. Last year, Michigan was penalized by the Big Ten Conference for having conducted “an impermissible, in-person scouting operation over multiple years, resulting in an unfair competitive advantage that compromised the integrity of competition,” and head coach Jim Harbaugh served a three-game suspension lasting the remainder of the regular season.

Former Wolverines staff member Connor Stalions resigned from the program midseason in 2023. It was found he purchased tickets to at least 30 games over at least the 2021-22 seasons including the 2021 and 2022 Southeastern Conference championships games.

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Among the other approved rules include the use of tablets to view only in-game video featuring the broadcast and camera angles from the coach’s sideline and coach’s end zone, according to the NCAA. There can be “up to 18 active tables for use in the coaching booth, sideline and locker room” for each team, though tablets “cannot be connected to other devices to project larger additional images and cannot include analytics, data or data access capability or other communication access.”

According to the NCAA, “all team personnel” can view the tablets during a game.

Additionally, another change will come when two minutes remain in the second and fourth quarters. The Playing Rules Oversight Committee, according to the NCAA, approved an automatic timeout that “synchronizes all timing rules, such as 10-second runoffs and stopping the clock when a first down is gained in bounds, which coincides with the two-minute timeout.”

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Horse-collar tackles occurring within the tackle box will be penalized “as a 15-yard personal foul,” another change for the 2024 season according to the NCAA.

Head coaches can also interview “with broadcast partners” after the first and third quarters, which the NCAA announced is a permanent rule going forward.

The Football Rules Committee “had a thorough discussion regarding wearable technologies,” according to the NCAA. It met the final week of February, and it “invites non-FBS conferences that are interested in using wearable technologies to submit an experimental proposal to the committee” by June 15.