3 Point Line Moving Back

College basketball players might want to
start polishing up their long-range shooting.
The men's basketball rules committee approved a measure Thursday
that would move the 3-point line back one foot in 2008-09 - from 19
feet, 9 inches to 20 feet, 9 inches. If approved by the playing
rules oversight committee on May 25, it would mark the first major
alteration to the 3-point shot since its inception in 1986-87.
The move comes after more than a decade of debate about whether
to move the line. The extended line has been used on an
experimental basis in some early season tournaments and NCAA
statistics have not shown a dramatic change in shooting percentages
from the longer line. But the rules change had never previously
passed the rules committee for regular-season and postseason games.
"I am a little surprised they have made the change, but I have
no real problem with it," North Carolina coach Roy Williams said.
"I am certainly glad they didn't move it back to the NBA distance
and certainly glad the committee did not widen the lane along with
moving the 3-point line.
"The rules committee looks very seriously at these issues, and
they are hopeful that changes they make will indeed help the game.
This particular change should create more space and give teams more
movement on offense."
Chairman Larry Keating said the committee considered two
proposals. The other would have moved the line to 20 feet, 6
inches, the same distance as international 3-pointers. Both are
shorter than the NBA line, which is 23 feet, 9 inches at the top of
the key and 22 feet at its shortest point in the baseline corners.
"We made it a point to come up with a distance that was correct
for us and that didn't necessarily mimic the international line,"
Keating said.
Women's rules committee chairwoman Ronda Seagraves said the
3-point line will remain unchanged in women's basketball, and Bruce
Howard, spokesman for the National Federation of State High School
Associations, said he's unaware of any discussion about moving it
on the prep level. High schools also use the 19-foot, 9-inch
The new men's rule would be adopted by all three college
divisions, and Keating expects the measure to pass in three weeks.
"It (the committee) has passed what we've done for the most
part unless there are financial or safety issues, so, yes, I think
it will be approved," he said.
The reason for delaying the change until November 2008 is money.
Keating said it was unfair to charge schools a surprise
expenditure when most of the budgets for next year have already
been approved. Still, Keating has been anticipating change for two
"I like to say the day that it passed was the day we began
discussing moving it back," Keating said. "The basic percentages
haven't changed. I think it's safe to say you might see some
reversal on that (percentages) for men."
NCAA statistics show that 3-point percentages since 1992 have
hovered between 34.1 and 35.6 percent each year. Stats from the
experimental line showed shooting percentages between 34 and 35
Still, some coaches prefer no change.
"I come from the school of thought that if it's not broke,
don't fix it," Indiana coach Kelvin Sampson said. "Over time,
everyone will adjust to the rule. I think the 3-point shooting
percentages will stay the same, there just won't be as many kids
shooting 3s. Coaches will have to be a little more judicious
determining who can and can't make the shot."
Keating said the primary reason for making a change was to
create more space between perimeter and post players. Ideally, that
would help the rules committee continue on its mission to spread
the floor and reduce physical play.
In another move, the committee approved a measure that would
change the way players line up on free throws. Rebounders would
have to move back one spot on the floor, following the same rules
women's basketball teams currently use.
But the committee rejected adding the arch underneath the basket
for charge-block calls, a line the NBA uses, in part because it
believed there would be too many lines on the court.
It also passed measures that would allow officials to use replay
monitors when trying to determine flagrant fouls and to assess who
started a fight. Next year's points of emphasis will include the
block-charge calls underneath the basket, enforcement of the
coaches' box and palming.
The women's rules committee passed a measure requiring officials
to use replay when a fight breaks out. Current rules allow
officials to use replay monitors, but do not make it mandatory.
The points of emphasis in the women's game next year will focus
on traveling, unsportsmanlike behavior and enforcement of the legal
guarding position. The committee also rewrote its rules on
technical fouls, which will now count toward individual and team