Football Fever? The Only Cure Is Less Cowbell

Birmingham, Ala.--The NCAA has granted the Southeastern Conference's request to retain the penalty structure for its artificial noisemaker rule during football games this season.

That should effectively keep the noise from the cowbells to a minimum Saturday in Starkville for Auburn's SEC opener against Mississippi State.

Prior to the start of the 2006 season, the NCAA Football Rules Committee eliminated the "crowd noise" rule, which, in turn, eliminated the penalty structure of the SEC's artificial noisemaker rule. Because of that fans were allowed to bring cowbells into the stadium for MSU's season opener against South Carolina. This ruling will change that effective immediately.

Before this season, playing rule penalties for the NCAA "crowd noise" rule were a loss of timeout and/or a 5-yard penalty against the home team.

The SEC's artificial noisemaker rule and its penalties for football are:

"Artificial noisemakers shall not be permitted to be brought into or used in SEC football stadiums. Each institution should have statements printed on tickets and notices to the effect that such noisemakers will not be permitted inside its competition areas.

Penalties for violations – In the sport of football, the game officials shall be responsible for enforcing the conference ban on artificial noisemakers utilizing the following procedures:

(a) The first time the referee detects the significant use of artificial noisemakers by those in the crowd, he will call a referee's timeout and issue a verbal warning through the public address system.

(b) On the second incident involving the significant use of artificial noisemakers, a 5-yard penalty shall be assessed against the offending institution.

(c) On the third, and any subsequent, incident involving the significant use of artificial noisemakers, a 15-yard penalty shall be assessed against the offending institution."

The SEC artificial noisemaker rule has been in effect since the early 1970s. The penalty structure for the rule was put into place in 2002.

The NCAA Football Rules Committee granted the request, and it was also supported by the NCAA Sportsmanship and Ethical Conduct Committee.

The use of the SEC's artificial noisemaker rule is effective immediately for Sept. 9 games.


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