RULE 12 Video judge

SECTION 1. Philosophy and rationale


ARTICLE 1. NCAA Instant Replay permits a replay official to review a specified range of situations that may occur in a game and rule on their correct outcome. We believe that now is the time to give the off-field official a new role in advising the on-field officials of evidence that is available from video.


ARTICLE 2. The rationale for this includes:

a. NCAA replay was designed at a time when communication between the on-field officials and replay official was limited. Modern radio technology makes two-way communication much easier. We wish to take advantage of that.

b. Modern technology makes the provision of video much easier. Replay does not have to be limited to games where there is full-scale television coverage.

c. If there is a stadium screen, the on-field officials should be able to take advantage of any view they can see on it, provided that choice of view is not biased.

d. We do not want to delay the game unnecessarily, but there is increasing pressure from fans and media for officials to get the call right.

e. We must make sure that replay is equally available to both teams -- it cannot be under the sole control of the home team, for instance.

f. What we have adopted is not new. It has been used successfully for several years in both codes of Rugby football. See for how it is used in Rugby Union.

SECTION 2. Scope of the video judge

Requesting a review

ARTICLE 1. a. At the suggestion of any official (including the video judge), the referee may request a review of any play within scope.

b. A head coach may request a review by taking a team timeout before the ball is next legally put in play.

1. After a review has been completed:

(a) If any on-field ruling is reversed, the team is not charged with a timeout.

(b) If the on-field ruling is not reversed, the timeout is charged and that team's privilege to request a review is revoked for the remainder of the game.

2. If the play review being requested is not reviewable (see Rule 12-2-2), the timeout is charged but the team retains the privilege to request a review.

3. A head coach may not request a review if his team has used all its permitted timeouts for that half or in that extra period.

4. A request for a review shall be ignored when the privilege has been revoked or if the team has used all its timeouts.

Reviewable plays

ARTICLE 2. a. A review can only be used for a play in which there is doubt about:

1. a score

2. a change of team possession

3. a foul on the list of explicitly reviewable fouls (Rule 12-2-3)

4. any foul on a play that ends with less than two minutes of the game remaining or during an extra period

5. a disqualification

6. the status of the ball (e.g. live/dead, touched/untouched), including when and/or where the ball or a player is out of bounds or in an end zone, which player has possession of the ball, whether a pass is forward or backward or whether a forward pass is complete/incomplete

7. the location of a player with regard to substitutions, illegal passes (including intentional grounding), illegal kicks and handing (a foul may be created)

8. the location of the ball with respect to a first down

9. the down number within a series of downs or before the next series

10. clock status

11. any egregious error

b. A review can equally be used to determine whether a reviewable action occurred or not.

Explictly reviewable fouls

ARTICLE 3. The following plays are explicitly reviewable and the video judge may create a foul when there is no call by the on-field officials or cancel a foul called by an on-field official:

a. A foul that normally carries a 15-yard penalty, including pass interference.

b. Player throwing a forward pass or making a forward handoff when beyond the neutral zone or after a change of team possession.

c. Player beyond the neutral zone when kicking the ball.

d. Blocking by a Team A player before he is eligible to touch the ball on an onside kick.

e. The number of players on the field for either team during a live ball.

f. Illegal touching of a forward pass by an originally eligible receiver who has gone out of bounds.

g. Player who is out of bounds touching a free kick that had not been touched inbounds.

h. Forward pass that becomes illegal as a second forward pass after an on-field ruling of a backward pass is reversed.

Injured players

ARTICLE 4. The video judge may declare an injury timeout if he observes an injured participant that the on-field officials have not (Rule 3-3-5).

SECTION 3. Procedures

Equipment and personnel

ARTICLE 1. a. The video judge may use whatever video equipment is reasonably available. The sources of video to be used shall be determined by the video judge before the game.

b. When a replay is shown on a stadium screen, the on-field officials may observe it during a review and use clear evidence from it to reverse a decision. This may include situations when there is no video judge, but the referee has the ability to request a replay to be shown.

c. Review will not be used if there is no video judge AND the decision as to which plays to replay on the stadium screen is in the control of only one team.

Initiating review

ARTICLE 2. a. A review can be initiated by stopping the game at any time before the ball is next legally put in play. This includes when there is a positive intention by any official to initiate a review, even if the whistle or signal to denote it comes after the ball is snapped or free kicked.

b. A review can be initiated whenever an official believes that:

1. There is reasonable evidence to believe an error was made in the initial on-field ruling, and

2. The play is reviewable, and

3. The outcome of a review would have a direct, competitive impact on the game. Review shall not be used when there would be no competitive impact on the game, including when the running clock rule is in force (Rule 3-3-2).

c. An official shall not initiate a review in a situation when it would give one team an advantage with respect to time (on either the game clock or play clock).

d. There is no limit on the number of reviews initiated by the officials nor is there a time limit for a review. However, officials should have regard to the duration of the game and not instigate reviews that have little impact on the game.

e. Disqualifications may be reviewed at any time since the impact normally includes the player's ability to play in the next game.

Criteria for reversing an on-field ruling

ARTICLE 3. a. If there is clear, indisputable evidence that a ruling on the field was incorrect or that something within the scope of the review procedure occurred and was missed by the on-field officials, the video judge will advise the on-field officials to reverse their ruling(s).

b. If there is other evidence (e.g. not indisputable), the video judge shall inform the on-field officials of the evidence available and give them the opportunity to reverse their ruling(s) when that evidence is combined with evidence from their own observations. The video judge may not override the judgment of any of the on-field officials, but may advise them. The final determination of fact(s) shall remain with the on-field officials.

c. An official (usually the referee) may act for any other on-field official who is unable to communicate with the video judge.

d. When, in the judgment of the video judge, a foul should have been called, the referee may override that judgment if he believes the action as described to him would not have been ruled as a foul if it had been observed by an on-field official. The video judge is subject to the same officiating interpretations and philosophies as the on-field officials.

Information provision

ARTICLE 4. a. The relevant official should repeat information provided to him by the video judge to ensure that both are satisfied that the on-field official has heard the information correctly.

b. Normally, an on-field official (or the referee on their behalf) will ask the video judge to answer a specific question of fact.

c. If a ruling is reversed, the video judge shall provide the referee with all pertinent information as needed (next down, distance, yard line, position of the ball, clock status/adjustment) in order to resume play under the correct game conditions.

1. If the video judge does not know the precise information, an estimate can be used.

2. If the game clock was running and was stopped solely for a review, it should be adjusted such that no more than 40 seconds can elapse since the end of the previous play.

d. After a review is completed, the referee shall announce that:

1. the ruling on the field is confirmed, if the video evidence confirms the on-field ruling;

2. the ruling on the field stands, if the video evidence is inconclusive;

3. the ruling on the field is reversed, why and what the impact of the ruling is, if the video evidence reveals an error occurred.

Next chapter

Back to index

Editor: Jim Briggs, BAFA/BAFRA Rules Committee