High school basketball coaches may be subject to an official warning for misconduct during games beginning next season, according to one of several rule changes recently approved by the National Federation of State High School Associations.

Such warnings would be issued for matters involving the head coach or any other bench personnel that are judged not to be major, like an initial coaching-box violation, and would be recorded in the official game scorebook.

Major infractions would be subject to a technical foul, regardless of whether a warning already had been issued.

“Stopping play and making sure that the bench and the coach know that an official warning has been given sends a clear message to everyone in the gym and impacts the behavior of the coach, and in some cases the behavior of the opposing coach,” said Theresia Wynns, NFHS director of sports and officials and liaison to the NFHS Basketball Rules Committee, in a news release.

“This change in behavior creates a better atmosphere and, many times, avoids the need to administer a technical foul.”

Among other changes, the coaching box will be enlarged from 14 feet to 28 feet and bounded by a line drawn 28 feet from the end line toward the division line. A line drawn from the sideline toward the team bench becomes the end of the coaching box toward the end line.

State associations may alter the length and placement of the 28-foot coaching box.

“The committee thought the restriction of the [14-foot] coaching box limited the level of communication between the coach and players,” Wynns said. “Allowing a coach freedom to move within the new box between the 28-foot mark and the end line provides a coach more access to his or her players.”

The NFHS also approved a change in the way officials signal a foul against a player. After verbally informing the offender, the official shall use fingers on two hands to indicate to the scorer the number of the offender and the number of free throws.

“This change was made to minimize reporting errors that occur between the officials and the scorekeepers,” Wynns said. “Two-handed reporting is easier for the scorekeepers to see and comprehend, and it is less confusing.”


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