Indianapolis 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 three-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 May 25, it would mark the first major alteration to the three-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 never had passed the rules committee for regular-season and postseason games.
Chairman Larry Keating, senior associate athletic director at Kansas University, said the committee considered two proposals. The other would have moved the line to 20 feet, 6 inches, the same distance as international three-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. "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 three-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 percent.
"They started discussing the length of the line when it passed 20 years ago," Keating said Thursday night in a phone interview. "It's taken some time to get around to it. Everybody felt it was time. There's no real serious problem with the game. It just got to the point moving it back was a good move. There have been no dimensional changes on the court in 20 years."
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.
KU coach Bill Self said he understood the reasoning.
"This is something that has been considered for quite some time now. This will help the game by keeping the floor more spread out and will leave more room inside for cutting and offensive post play," said Self, who in the past had stated he saw no need for the line to be moved back but was not vehemently against the change.
"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 three-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."
Women's rules committee chairwoman Ronda Seagraves said the three-point line would 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 distance.
KU's Self did not think two lines painted on the floor would cause too much confusion.
"Ours will be the one farthest out," Self said. "It seems to me the women might shoot from our line. They may look down and see our line and step behind that. I wish we had one line on the court, but I don't think it will be that confusing."
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 would be 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 decades.
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.
"The women are already doing that," Self said. "I really don't know if that's good or bad. I have not studied that one."
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 fouls.