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NCAA votes to move back 3-point line

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 3-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 on May 25, it would mark the first major alteration to the 3-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 had never previously had passed the rules committee for regular-season and postseason games.
    Chairman Larry Keating said the committee considered two proposals. The other would have moved the line to 20 feet, 6 inches, the same distance as international 3-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.
    Women’s rules committee chairwoman Ronda Seagraves said the 3-point line will 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.
    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 was 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.
    ‘‘I like to say the day that it passed was the day we began discussing moving it back,’’ 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 3-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.
    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.
    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.
    But 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.

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