NCAA Denies Report It Wants a Rule Change on Fake Fair-Catch Punt Returns

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistSeptember 18, 2018

OXFORD, MS - SEPTEMBER 8:  Mac Brown #96 of the Mississippi Rebels punts the ball during a game against the Southern Illinois Salukis at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on September 8, 2018 in Oxford, Mississippi.  The Rebels defeated the Salukis 76-41.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

The NCAA has responded to a report that the Football Rules Committee is considering a rule change to eliminate fake fair catches on punt returns.

According to a report from Tommy Craft of ESPN Radio's Hit That Line, an amendment could be made as soon as this weekend:

An NCAA spokesman was quick to deny the rumor, per Kyle Bonagura of ESPN.com: "I'll debunk the rumor. ... There is no rules change being considered."

Talk of a rule change is in response to a 90-yard punt-return touchdown by North Texas' Keegan Brewer against Arkansas on Saturday in a 44-17 win for the Mean Green:

While Brewer didn't call for a fair catch, he acted as if he did by not immediately running after catching the ball, which caused the Razorbacks players to stay away from him.

Had Brewer called for a fair catch and been hit, Arkansas would have been flagged for unnecessary roughness.

Brewer's touchdown gave the Mean Green a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, and they never looked back en route to a 44-17 win that improved their record to 3-0.

After the game, Brewer discussed the controversial play, according to the Associated Press (h/t ESPN.com): "One of [the Arkansas players] actually asked me, 'Why didn't they blow the whistle?' I didn't say anything. ... And as soon as he passed me, I knew it was go time."

It is unclear exactly how the NCAA Football Rules Committee might prevent similar plays from happening in the future, but allowing referees to blow the play dead if a return man doesn't run or make a football move immediately after catching a punt is a logical possibility.

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