NCAA Appendix E Getting The Call Right
Getting The Call Right
The first requisite of an umpire is to ultimately get all decisions correct. Umpire pride is important, but never as important as getting the play right. It is the philosophy of the NCAA that umpires always seek to get the call right. This may involve the reversal of a previously rendered decision. However, the correct decision—not the pride of any umpire—must prevail.
Getting the Call Right without the use of video review:
SECTION 1. Following are general guidelines for this policy:
a. NCAA rule 3-6-g states, “No umpire shall criticize or interfere with another umpire’s decision, unless asked by the one making it; however, if there is a misinterpretation of a rule, it should be brought to the attention of the umpire-in-chief.” Therefore, except in special situations such as those outlined in the next paragraph, the umpire making the call must be the one to seek assistance of a partner.
b. An umpire is urged to seek help when his view is blocked or positioning prevents him from seeing crucial elements of a play. An umpire is also encouraged to seek help in instances when he has any doubt and a partner has additional information that could lead to the proper ruling.
c. In the situations listed below, a partner who is 100 percent certain he has additional information unknown to the umpire making the call should approach unsolicited and alert the other umpire to such information. However, the ultimate decision to change a call rests with the calling umpire.
1) Deciding if a home run is fair or foul.
2) Deciding whether a batted ball left the playing field for a home run or ground-rule double.
3) Cases in which a foul tip is dropped or trapped by the catcher.
4) Cases in which a foul fly ball is caught or not caught.
5) Cases when an umpire clearly errs in judgment because he did not see a ball dropped or juggled after making a tag or force.
6) Spectator interference plays.
7) Balks called by an umpire who clearly did not realize the pitcher’s foot was off the rubber.
8) Changing a call of “foul” to “fair.”
Note: Umpires may conference after a batted ball that first touches the ground or a fielder beyond the initial position of the first or third baseman and has been ruled “foul”. After consultation with the entire umpire crew, the Crew Chief will place the base runners where the crew believes they would have advanced had the ball been first ruled fair. The Crew Chief and crew should be conservative on their placement of base runners.
9) Changing a call of “catch” to “no catch”: The umpires may conference after a fair batted ball has been hit into the outfield or on any foul ball to determine whether the fielder did or did not make a catch.
Note: If the ball is foul, it remains a foul ball.
a) The ball is dead.
b) The batter is placed at first base.
c) Each base runner is advanced one base from the base occupied at the time of the pitch.
10) Changing a call of “no catch” to “catch”: The umpires may conference after a fair batted ball has been hit into the outfield or on any foul ball to determine whether a fielder did or did not make a catch.
a) The ball is dead.
b) All action prior to the ball becoming dead shall be disallowed.
c) The batter shall be declared out.
d) All base runners shall be returned to the base they occupied at the time of the pitch.
Note 1: A call of “no catch” within the infield can be changed to a “catch” if there are one or more runners on base and the change to a “catch” results in the third out, or at any time with no base runners and the change affects the batter only.
Note 2: For the purpose of applying the changing of a call of “catch” to “no catch” (Section 9) or “no catch” to “catch” (section 10), a fair batted ball shall be considered “hit into the outfield” when it is hit into the outfield area beyond the nearest infielder. A line drive hit directly toward an infielder shall not meet the requirement for a potential change of the initial call.
d. Umpires are not required to seek help on plays on which they are 100 percent confident in their judgment and view of the play. Head coaches are not entitled to a second opinion when the calling umpire is certain his decision is correct. On the other hand, and contrary to past practice, umpires are not to “die with a call” in cases in which a) the calling umpire is not 100 percent certain he is right; and b) another umpire has additional information that could lead to a proper ruling. Both NCAA philosophy and umpire integrity – consistent with NCAA rules – dictate that calls are reversed in this situation.
e. When an umpire seeks help, he should do so shortly after making his original call. He should not have a lengthy discussion with the head coach or others and then ask for help. If the calling umpire seeks help, he should include other umpire(s) who would likely have the best position to see the elements of the play. This conversation must take place away from players or coaches. If a crew chief deems it necessary, he can, at his discretion, bring together the entire crew. All umpires involved should meet at once; multiple meetings unnecessarily delay the game. Crew chiefs can conduct conferences and are expected to ensure that NCAA philosophies are given priority over any single umpire’s pride.
Note: Once umpires have determined a need to conference to review a play, they shall direct the head coach to return to the dugout or coaching box before the crew will begin their discussion. Common Practice: The umpires shall notify the opposing head coach of the umpire’s decision to change the call before signaling their decision to the press box or crowd. Once the notification is made to the coach, the calling official will signal the final decision.
f. Judgment calls, which have traditionally not been subject to reversal, include steal and other tag plays (except if the ball is dropped without the umpire’s knowledge, as discussed above); force plays (when the ball is not dropped and foot is not pulled); balls and strikes (other than check swings). This practice shall continue. Also, some calls cannot be reversed without creating larger problems. Overall, umpires are urged to seek help on reversible plays in which they may have erred by not seeing a crucial element of a play. Such meetings, while necessary, should be infrequent and not become a substitute for umpires seeking proper angles, exercising sound judgment and having the conviction to stay with a call that an umpire believes was properly made.
Getting the Call Right with the use of video review:
SECTION 2. The following plays will be reviewable by the crew chief at his discretion at any time during the game or with the use of a coach’s challenge (each coach is permitted two challenges per game):
a. Deciding if a batted ball is fair or foul. The ball must first touch the ground or a fielder beyond the initial position of the first or third baseman.
b. Deciding if a batted ball is either a ground-rule double or a home run.
c. Any “catch” or “no catch” ruling in the outfield or foul territory.
d. A “no catch” ruling in the infield in some instances. With runners on base, a “no catch” within the infield can be changed to a “catch” only if it results in a third out. With no runners on base, a “no catch” within the infield can be changed to a “catch” at any time.
e. Spectator interference.
f. Deciding scoring plays at home plate inclusive of collisions (illegal and/or malicious slides) or time plays.
The following plays will be reviewable only by a coach’s challenge at any time during the game or at the crew chief’s discretion during in the last two innings of regulation and any extra innings:
g. Force and tag play calls at any base.
h. Calls involving whether a base runner passes a preceding runner; determining whether a base runner scored ahead of a third out; and upon an appropriate appeal by the defensive team, determining whether a base runner touched a base.
i. Plays involving a hit by pitch.
j. Deciding if a runner failed to retouch a base after a fair or foul ball is legally caught.
k. Non-home run boundary calls including the placement of runners following a boundary call.
l. Deciding if interference occurred on a runner’s attempt to break up a double play.
When centralized video review is used, the off-field video review official will be considered an extension of the umpiring crew and will have the ability to notify the umpires on the field that a review should be initiated. The video review official will be permitted at any time to initiate a review for plays included in the first list (a-f) above. For the second list (g-l), the video review official can initiate review during the final two innings of regulation and during extra innings. The following criteria will be used by institutions and conferences using video review during the regular season:
a. A ruling on the field will only be changed if there is indisputable video evidence to reverse the call. Absent that evidence, the original ruling on the field will stand.
b. Any use of video review must occur before the next pitch or play. The Head Coach should notify an umpire immediately (within approximately 10 seconds) at the end of a play if he intends to use one of his two challenges on the previous play. This is critical, especially if the play ends an inning or ends the game. If the review is called for after a game ending play, it must be called before all umpires leave the field of play.
c. The crew chief will make the determination if a play is eligible for video review. Under the provisions of Getting the Call Right, coaches have the ability to request a conference among the umpires.
d. The video review area must be on the field level so that umpires must not walk through spectators to view the coverage. At least one umpire must remain on the field.
e. During the video review the defensive team shall maintain their positions on the field and may warm-up if desired. Offensive base runners and the on-deck hitter shall maintain their positions. Other personnel shall remain in the dugout. Any defensive or offensive conferences will be charged as during any other part of the game.
f. All equipment should be tested by appropriate personnel before each game.
g. The final decision may not be argued by either coach.
h. If the reversing of a call results in the need for decisions on the placement of base runners, the crew chief shall use his best judgment to determine their locations as if the call had been made correctly (with exception to placement prescribed by rule on catch/no catch reversals).
i. If a call has been changed, the crew chief, upon returning to the field, will notify both head coaches and the official scorer of the ruling.