Over the Backboard

Below is a video clip from a college game on the west coast last week.  The clip shows the unbelievable ending of that game.  The rule issue involves whether or not the ball went over the backboard and then would have been ruled out of bounds.  While this is a collegiate game similar plays could and have happened in high school contests.  The rule is essentially the same for both the NCAA and the National Federation.

The NCAA clarifies its rule a little better than does the National Federation. The NCAA rule reads “The ball shall be out of bounds when any part of the ball passes over the backboard from any direction.”

The National Federation never clearly defines whether the entire ball must go over the backboard or whether like the NCAA rule if any part of the ball goes over the backboard the ball is ruled out of bounds.  It is worth noting the National Federation rule applies only to rectangle backboards and not fan shaped boards.

Here is what the National Federation Rule Book says about this situation.

Rule: 7-1-2

ART. 2

The ball is out of bounds:

     a. When it touches or is touched by:

          1. A player who is out of bounds.

          2. Any other person, the floor, or any object on or outside a boundary.

          3. The supports or back of the backboard.

          4. The ceiling, overhead equipment or supports.

     b. When it passes over a rectangular backboard.

The National Federation Case Book chimes in with this play


The ball strikes the side edge or top edge of the backboard or passes over the top of the backboard and the ball: (a) came from a throw-in from behind the plane of the backboard; or (b) from a pass or try from the front or back of the plane of the backboard. The ball does not touch any supporting brace.

RULING: If a fan-shaped backboard is being used in (a) and in (b), the ball remains live. If a rectangular backboard is used in (a), the ball remains live after touching the side edge, but it is a violation if it passes directly over the backboard. In (b), the ball remains live if it touches a side edge or the top edge if it rebounds and comes down in front of the backboard. The ball becomes dead if it passes over the top of a rectangular backboard regardless of the action which causes it to pass over or whether it comes from the front or back of the plane.

If like us, you are not quite sure what “directly” means, the NCAA rule stating “any part of the ball” might be a good guideline.

Hope that you are never faced with this play anytime during a game and especially not at the end of the game where your ruling might decide the outcome.  The officials involved in this clip have the benefit of video replay and after viewing such replay confirmed their ruling on the court that the basket counted.

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