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NCAA will allow players to wear social justice patches this season

Mountain West
Mountain West players can wear a social message patch on their jersey this season, pending team and conference approval. (Photo by Loren Orr/Getty Images)

The NCAA approved a measure Thursday that will allow student-athletes in all sports to wear patches on their uniforms for commemorative and memorial purposes, as well as to support social justice issues. Current rules in some sports do not allow patches, while rulebooks in several other sports do not address the topic.

Panel members for the Playing Rules Oversight committee reaffirmed and expanded existing rules, which will now allow student-athletes two places on the uniform for patches, one on the front and one on the back, to express support and voice their opinions.

The patch on the front, which most sports already allowed, may be a commemorative/memorial patch (names, mascots, nicknames, logos and marks) intended to celebrate or memorialize people, events or other causes. The patch cannot exceed 2 1/4 square inches and must be placed on the front or sleeve of the uniform. While not all team members are required to wear the patch, they must be identical for those who choose to wear them.

The second location is on the back of the uniform where the player name is traditionally located and will allow names/words intended to celebrate or memorialize people, events or other causes. The names or words may vary by team member. Each message must be authorized by the school or conference.

The NCAA also made some rule changes for 2020-21 to increase social distancing at fall events.

In football, team areas will be expanded to the 15-yard lines. Under the current rule, the team area was between the 25-yard lines. Also, the coin toss participants will be limited to two officials and one captain from each team. The current rule allowed up to four game captains and additional people such as media members or ceremonial captains to be in proximity of the coin toss.

In men’s and women’s soccer, players ejected for spitting at an opponent will have to serve a two-game penalty. The current rule called for an ejection and a one-game suspension. In women’s volleyball, the teams will remain on the same bench during the entire match rather than switch benches after each set.

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