The NCAA's Men's and Women's Basketball Rules Committees met earlier this month to discuss, among other things, the potential player safety hazard posed by decals applied to court surfaces. Court stickers promoting sponsors or special events may exhibit a coefficient of friction that differs from the finished hardwood, or may pick up moisture, putting players at risk of slip-and-fall injuries.
Last November, during a game played on board the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier, Michigan State forward Branden Dawson appeared to fall and injure himself while crossing a Quicken Loans Carrier Classic logo decal at center court. Dawson finished the game, but that incident, and one like it involving University of Memphis player Chris Crawford less than a week later, drew widespread attention. Having witnessed the Crawford slip up close, officials working the EA Sports/Maui Invitational game between Memphis and Belmont ordered the removal of all court stickers at halftime. "The safety of our student-athletes has to come before anything else," said St. Peter's coach John Dunne, who chairs the men's basketball rules committee. "We're seeing players slip on the non-consistent parts of the floor too many times.
"Sometimes it takes a high-profile event to make a rules change. But we don't want to sit back and wait for injuries to happen and then pass the rule."
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class James R. Evans, courtesy of U.S. Navy)
Despite this being a "non-rules change" year, the committee is pushing implementation of its recommendation that "the playing court must be completely finished in a manner that is consistent throughout" beginning with the upcoming 2012-13 season, since player safety is at stake. Coaches, including Michigan State's Tom Izzo and Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, have championed getting rid of the stickers altogether, and Maple Flooring Manufacturers Association executive director Dan Heney told AB late last year that the MFMA does not recommend their use, either, stating they could be "more slippery or more grabby" than the surrounding surface.
The NCAA's playing rules oversight panel is expected to consider the rules committee recommendation as early as June 12, when it meets via conference call.