NJCAA – NCAA Rules Differences

Published on October 31, 2017


By: Todd Abraham, Sr. Director of Instruction

Todd Abraham

Todd Abraham, NISOA Senior Director of Instruction

As the playoffs approach it is even more important to understand the specific rules of the competition.  There have been a number of documents published over the season highlighting the NCAA differences from IFAB and from NFHS (high schools).  Don Dennison’s rules comparison (see the Forms page for the most current edition) is an excellent reference that everyone should review prior to post-season assignments (any assignment for that matter).  The National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) uses NCAA rules for all of its soccer competitions with some modifications. The full NJCAA handbook (see pages 136-149 for soccer specific information) is the source for this information.

There are 2 differences in the NJCAA rules that I wanted to highlight – substitution restrictions and mandatory substitution for cautioned players.  The NJCAA allows for unlimited substitutions (the reentry restrictions do NOT apply).  These substitutions may occur at the same time as NCAA rules allow substitutions and, as with the NCAA rules, require that the clock be stopped if the team leading substitutes any time in the final 5 minutes of the second half.

The NJCAA requires that “any player receiving a yellow card (caution) must leave the game for a substitute, including the goalkeeper.  Game includes regulation play, overtime periods, and penalty kicks.  They may return to the game at the next legal substitution point”.  This is very straightforward for regulation play and overtime periods.  The player must wait until his / her team has a legal substitution opportunity to return to the game.  It is more complex during the penalty kick phase as the NCAA rules do NOT allow for substitutions of either kickers or goalkeepers during the penalty kick tiebreaker unless the goalkeeper is injured (and the injury is certified by the trainer or medical staff in concert with the governing sports authority).  This is in conflict with the required substitution for cautions in the NJCAA modifications.  Therefore, the NJCAA has modified this provision so that if a kicker is cautioned, he must be substituted and cannot take a kick until 10 kickers have taken kicks.  For example, the first kicker takes his kick and is cautioned.  He must be substituted and cannot reenter for his substitute (which the NJCAA allows in this circumstance) until after the 11th kick.  Please note, that since the NCAA rules allow the order of kickers to change after all 10 kickers have kicked, it is possible for the cautioned player to take a kick during the second set of 10 and the player who replaced him to never be required to take a kick.  If the goalkeeper is cautioned he must be replaced for one kick and then may reenter the game.

One Response to “NJCAA – NCAA Rules Differences”

  1. Greetings Todd

    I found the answer to my question on the NJCAA website hand book and have attached a PDF of the Handbook. Soccer for both Division 1 and Division 3 is covered on pages 136 to 149

    This is was per our phone conversation if a Goalkeeper or Player was Cautioned during Penalty Kicks

    The answer is clearly explained at the top of Page 137. If I may make a suggestion we may want to blast this information out on the NISOA Arbiter for fellow officials to have if needed.

    1. Unlimited Substitutions apply with the stoppage of the game clock during substitutions of the leading team at “ANYTIME” in the last 5 minutes of the game

    2. Any Player receiving a Yellow Card ( Caution ) MUST leave the game for a Substitute, including the Goalkeeper. Game includes regulation play, overtime, and penalty kicks. They may Return to the game at the next Legal Substitution Point,

    NOTE: The next substitution point is defined as follows:

    Shooters AFTER 10 Penalty Kicks have been taken by the Offending Team

    Goalkeepers AFTER One Penalty Kicks has been taken against the Offending Team