This coming NCAA football season will see a few new rules implemented, including fair catches on kickoffs.

To improve player safety, the NCAA announced a major rule change Friday that will allow teams to call for a fair catch on kickoffs within the field of play inside their own 25-yard line.

The team that makes the fair catch will get the football on their own 25-yard line, regardless of where the ball was hauled in, essentially making it a touchback.

The new rule will come into effect for the 2018 season.

Previous studies have shown that a troubling number of injuries, particularly concussions, take place during collisions on kickoff returns.

In 2012, kickoffs were moved up 5 yards to the 35-yard line, and touchbacks were moved up 5 yards to the 25-yard line to limit the number of returns and subsequent injuries that take place during the play.

In another rule amendment, offensive players will not be allowed to block below the waist when the block occurs more than five yards past the line of scrimmage.

Fans will also see the pace of play change with a couple of new rules. After a touchdown, the play clock will be set at 40 seconds to expedite the extra point or two-point conversion attempt. Additionally, following a kickoff, the play clock will be set to 40 seconds to restart play more quickly.

Other rule changes include;

  • The addition of a 10-second runoff was approved when instant replay overturns the ruling on the field inside of one minute in either half, and the correct ruling would not have stopped the game clock.
  • The panel approved the continuation of an experimental collaborative decision-making model for instant replay that is not limited to the press box in the stadium. For example, officials involved in the replay process could be located in a conference office.
  • Leaping rules on field goals and extra points were adjusted to mirror similar rules regarding leaping the shield on punting plays. It is illegal to leap over the frame of the body of an opponent.
  • On successful field goals, penalty enforcement will be the same as on made extra points. Namely, all personal fouls and unsportsmanlike conduct fouls by the defending team will have the option to be enforced on the ensuing kickoff.