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Vanderbilt escapes jersey timeout penalty by showing email to ref, but should have been penalized

Today in fun with NCAA rules ...

In an effort to change it up in its first game, Vanderbilt decided to put its motto, "Anchor Down," on the back of its jerseys, rather than players' names. However, that nearly backfired when one of the officials at Thursday night's game charged the Commodores a timeout per quarter for the nameplate change.

This is technically within the referee's obligations. According to NCAA rules, there are only certain things that a team can put on its uniforms:

  • Player's name
  • School name
  • NCAA logo
  • Sleeve stripes
  • Logo for school, conference, mascot, postseason-game, memorial, the military
  • American flag
  • State flag
  • Words to commemorate the military like "Honor" and "Service" (only for service academies)

"Anchor Down" does not fall under any of these categories, and to do something different, teams have to get special permission to do so. However, it turns out that the Commodores did have permission.

Shaw is the SEC's head of officiating.

And it worked! Vandy apparently did have permission and was not charged with a timeout per quarter. NCAA rules, man. They're always a lot of fun to sort out.

Update: This gets even more confusing! According to a statement from the SEC, Vanderbilt thought approval of the jersey design was also an approval of having a slogan on the jerseys.

A miscommunication resulted in Vanderbilt wearing jerseys during its football game Thursday night that are not permissible under the NCAA football uniform regulations. Before production of the jerseys, Vanderbilt sought approval of the jersey design from the NCAA, which included the words "Anchor Down" on the back panel.  The NCAA responded with written approval of the design as presented and Vanderbilt proceeded with the jersey production, assuming the approval was applicable to the slogan as well as the colors and overall design in the submitted layout.

NCAA football regulations do not permit the use of slogans on jerseys. Vanderbilt was originally penalized for the jerseys during the game and after being shown the written correspondence, the head referee also interpreted the correspondence to mean the slogan had been approved. Vanderbilt has been notified it cannot wear the slogan on its jersey for future games and has agreed to comply.

It didn't matter. Vanderbilt still lost by 30.