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By Greg Johnson
The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel during its conference call on Thursday approved an experimental instant replay rule that umpires can use to review specific calls at the 2012 Men’s College World Series.
The list of reviewable plays will be limited to:
The Playing Rules Oversight Panel is a 12-member group charged with overseeing and considering proposals from the Association’s 15 playing rules committees. All playing rules proposals must receive approval from the panel before being implemented.
The experimental rule will be used only at the Men’s College World Series since it’s possible that not all regional and super regional sites would offer the same logistical consistency that TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha affords.
Both the Division I Baseball Committee and the NCAA Baseball Rules Committee said it makes sense to take advantage of a facility that is “logistically friendly” to review plays.
ESPN has 17 camera locations during Men’s College World Series games, and both committees felt that it is important to take advantage of the technology available to the umpires.
The instant-replay process will operate under the fundamental assumption that the ruling on the field is correct. The only way a call can be changed is if there is indisputable video evidence to remove all doubt that a ruling was incorrect. Otherwise, the original call will stand.
Any instant-replay review would have to occur before the next pitch or play. If it occurs after a game-ending play, it must be called for before all umpires leave the field of play.
There would not be a formal “coaches challenge” opportunity in the instant-replay process. Coaches already have the ability to request a conference among umpires under the “Getting the Call Right” provisions in Appendix E of the NCAA Baseball Rules Book.
The umpire crew chief determines whether to use instant replay.
If instant replay is used, the calling umpire and the crew chief and other members of the crew, as deemed necessary, would go to the designated video-replay area to review all relevant video coverage. At least one umpire would remain on the field.
During a video review, the defensive team players would be required to maintain their positions on the field and would be allowed to practice throw if desired. Baserunners and the on-deck hitter would remain at their positions. All players and coaches would have to remain in the dugout. Any defensive or offensive conferences would be charged as during any other part of the game.
While there is no time limit for the video review, lengthy reviews (more than two or three minutes) are discouraged and would be considered possible evidence that there is no indisputable video evidence to change a call.
The crew chief may confer and discuss the replays during the review with other members of the umpiring crew, but the ultimate final decision is with the crew chief. This final decision may not be contested by either coach.
If a reversal results in the need to decide the placement of baserunners, the crew chief would use his best judgment to determine their locations as if the call had been made correctly. Again, coaches cannot question these decisions.
If a call is changed, the crew chief would notify both head coaches and the official scorer of the ruling.
The Division I Baseball Committee noted a few instances during the 2011 Men’s College World Series in which replay could have helped the umpires get the call right, including an apparent home run that ended up being a double.