In the aftermath of Marcus Smart shoving Texas Tech fan Jeff Orr in early February, many wondered why Smart was merely assessed a technical foul for “unsportsmanlike conduct” and not ejected from the game. The reason for this: the officials did not have the power to eject Smart, and that revealed a problem with the rule governing player/fan altercations.
According to Andy Katz of ESPN.com the NCAA has tweaked the rule in order to make it clear that players who engage in that kind of behavior will receive an flagrant two (non contact) foul and be ejected from the game. With the change being made there should be no further confusion for officials who have to deal with a similar situation in the future.
Big 12 coordinator of officials Curtis Shaw told Katz the following in regards to why the change was made:
“We had a rule that if a player left the court in order to participate in a fight but not one to interact with the fans,” he said. “We discussed that the rule was intended to cover (a player interaction with a fan), but it wasn’t in there. Now if any player leaves the court to have a physical altercation with a fan it is a flagrant 2 and an automatic ejection.”
The original rule, 10-1.3.h, only touched on players entering the stands when a fight “may break out or has broken out” but did not mention anything about player/fan confrontations. While many were under the assumption that a player would be ejected for this kind of interaction with a fan, the fact that it wasn’t clearly stated in the rules left the officials who worked the Oklahoma State/Texas Tech game in a tough spot.