For the upcoming 2015 season, the WNBA Board of Governors has approved an additional “trigger” for instant replay review as well as five modifications to existing instant replay rules. In addition, the Board approved four other playing rules changes for the upcoming 2015 season.
Expansion of Instant Replay Rules:
- Officials may utilize instant replay whenever they are not reasonably certain a team had an improper number of players on the court while the ball was in play.
Modification of Instant Replay Rules:
- Instant replay triggers that are currently in effect only during the last minute of regulation and the entire overtime period(s) – out-of-bounds, restricted area, goaltending/basket-interference, shot clock resets – instead shall be in effect during the last two minutes of regulation and the last two minutes of any overtime period.
- Officials may now during the last two minutes of regulation and the last two minutes of overtime period(s) conduct an instant replay review whenever they are not reasonably certain as to which team should be awarded possession after a ball becomes out of bounds or whether an out of bounds in fact occurred. Officials also may award the ball to the team that last touched the ball if the ball going out of bounds was clearly caused by an obvious foul on the team that did not last touch the ball. Previously, officials could only use replay if they weren’t reasonably certain as to which of two players on opposing teams caused the ball to become out of bounds and were limited as to what they could review once the instant replay was triggered.
- Officials may now utilize instant replay to review the timing of all off-ball fouls (offensive or defensive) that occur near the timing of a successful shot, to determine the actual sequence of events. Prior to this change, officials could only review the timing when an offensive player without the ball was fouled.
- Officials are now permitted to utilize instant replay whenever they are not reasonably certain whether a foul that was called meets the criteria of a flagrant foul. Previously, the foul had to be called a flagrant on the floor in order to utilize instant replay.
- Officials are now permitted to utilize instant replay whenever they are not reasonably certain whether a foul that was called meets the criteria of a clear-path-to-the-basket foul. Previously, the foul had to be called a clear-path foul on the floor in order to utilize instant replay.
- The shot clock will no longer be reset to five seconds when a held ball is caused by the defense with fewer than five seconds remaining on the clock.
- On any midcourt throw-in, the ball shall be put in play from the sideline one step in the backcourt, allowing the team to pass the ball into either the back or frontcourt. (Under pre-existing rules, the ball could only be passed into the frontcourt).
- Teams may freely substitute players whenever any timeout is called. Prior to this change, there were limited circumstances in which a team couldn’t substitute for certain players at timeouts.
- If a team has too many players on the court while the ball is in play, (i) the offending team would be assessed a non-unsportsmanlike technical foul and (ii) the non-offending team would continue to have the option of either accepting or nullifying the game action that occurred during the violation and, if the ball is put back into play via a throw-in, would be awarded the ball. Previously, if the offending team had possession, it would keep possession of the ball despite the violation.
Each of these rules was recommended by the WNBA’s Competition Committee at its meeting on December 3.