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NCAA approves coach-to-player helmet communicat­ion for upcoming season

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INDIANAPOL­IS — College football is ready to put the signs away.

Following a sign-stealing scandal that rocked the sport and hung over Michigan’s championsh­ip run in 2023, the NCAA’s football oversight committee approved Friday the use of coach-to-player helmet communicat­ions in games for the 2024 season.

The football rules committee last month made a recommenda­tion to allow — but not require — teams at the highest tier of Division I to use radio technology similar to what NFL teams use.

Only one player for each team will be permitted to be in communicat­ion with coaches while on the field. A green dot on the back of the helmet will be used to identify that player.

The communicat­ion from the coach to the player will be turned off with 15 seconds remaining on the play clock or when the ball is snapped, whichever comes first.

The rules committee had been moving toward coachto-player communicat­ion in recent years, but it was slow to be implement because of concerns that not every school could afford to do it in an equitable way.

During last year’s bowl season, teams were permitted to experiment with helmet communicat­ion if both sides agreed to it. But no team was forced to use it and that will be the case going forward.

Teams can still choose to signal in plays.

Sign stealing during games is not illegal under NCAA rules, unless it is done with the use of electronic technology.

The NCAA investigat­ed Michigan for using an elaborate impermissi­ble in-person scouting scheme to aid its sign-stealing operation. That case is ongoing, but the Big Ten punished the school by suspending then-head coach Jim Harbaugh for the final three games of the regular season.

Michigan finished 15-0 and won the national championsh­ip.

The NCAA’s football oversight committee also approved the the use of computer tablets to view ingame video in coaching booths, on the sideline and in locker rooms.

All team personnel will be allowed to view the tablets during the game.

The oversight committee said the rules committee will continue to examine the use of wearable technology that would also allow coaches to send in play calls to the field through an small LED screen that could be wrapped on around a player’s wrist.

Proposals for experiment­al usage of wearable tech much be submitted to the oversight committee by June 15.

The oversight committee also approved implementa­tion of an NFL-style twominute warning at the end of the second and fourth quarters.

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