Wrigley Field Football: Game Is Technically Against NCAA Rules (Again), Thanks To Static End Zones

For Saturday's Northwestern-Illinois game at Wrigley Field, one of the end zones will back up flush against the right-field wall. On Friday, someone finally realized that this is in violation of NCAA rules, as six feet of space is required outside of the back of the end zone. As a result, the decision was made that Northwestern and Illinois will not switch sides at halftime.

The problem is that this, too, apparently violates NCAA rules. An intrepid commenter over Every Day Should Be Saturday, 4.0 Point Stance, explains:

I hope Northwestern is ok playing a game that doesn’t count. The Big Ten’s proposed rule chages clearly violate the NCAA rulebook.

http://www.oficiales.org/A_2009/ncaa/NCAAINGLES/2009-10%20NCAA%20Footbal%20Rule%20Book.pdf

Rule 3-1-2 states that “Between the first and second periods and also between the third and fourth periods, the teams shall defend opposite goal lines.” (p. FR-63).

Fine, but the teams agreed to waive that rule by mutual consent. Except the rulebook also states which rules may be waived (for instance, halftime is 20 minutes, but teams can agree to a different time). “Some administrative rules (as indicated) may be altered by the mutual consent of the competing institutions. Others (as indicated) are unalterable. No conduct rule may be changed by mutual consent.” (p. FR-16).

There is a list at pages FR-16 and 17 of those rules which may be waived, and any rule not listed is unalterable even by mutual consent. Rule 3-1-2, needless to say, is not listed as alterable. It is therefore a “conduct rule” and cannot be waived.

If the NCAA were to actually enforce its rulebook literally, this game would not count. Will they have the guts to do that? Certainly not. But the lawyer in me demands strict enforcement of the letter of the law.

Huge propers for digging this up. Of course, it's extremely unlikely that the NCAA would enforce this to the letter of the law and void the result of the game, but to recap the funny fallout:

- Northwestern and Illinois agree to play at Wrigley Field. The teams have two years to plan.
- During these two years, apparently nobody in a position of authority realizes that the dimensions are in violations of field regulations.
- The day before the game, they attempt to rectify this by not switching end zones at halftime. This brings up another violation of NCAA rules.

This ought to be a real gas folks. When the game kicks off (3:30 p.m.), be sure to check back with this StoryStream, which we'll be updating as the game is in progress.

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