Huskies Insider Blog

Unsportsmanlike conduct: The rule and the ruling

Coach Tyrone Willingham said after the game that the officials almost had to make the unsportsmanlike conduct call against Jake Locker. And after reading the rule -- and the official's explanation -- it's hard to argue.

Here's the NCAA rule:

Unsportsmanlike Acts

ARTICLE 1: There shall be no unsportsmanlike conduct of any act that interferes with orderly game administration the part of players, substitutes, coaches, authorized attendants of any other persons subject to the rules, before the game, during the game or between periods.

a. Specifically prohibited acts and conduct include.

2. After a score of any other play, the player in possession immediately must return the ball to an official or leave it near the dead-ball spot.

This prohibits:

a. Kicking, throwing, spinning or carrying (including off of the field) the ball any distance that requires an official to retrieve it.

b. Spiking the ball to the ground. …

c. Throwing the ball high into the air.

d. Any other unsportsmanlike act or actions that delay the game.

And here's the ruling from game referee Larry Farina (obtained from UW athletic communications office):

"After scoring the touchdown, the player threw the ball into the air, and we are required, by rule, to assess a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. It is a celebration rule that we are required to call. It was not a judgment call."