For anyone who is new to the ASK THE REF column, one of the things we like to do each year is to put out a brief summary of RULES CHANGES for HIGH SCHOOL BOYS in the year ahead. In recent seasons, the changes have been minimal which is a sign that the game is in pretty good shape overall. That is the case for 2017-2018. The most important changes are directed at improving bench decorum. Changes: 1. Coaching Box Extended - Under the old rules, the coaching box was limited to a 14 foot space at the discretion of individual state associations. Some state associations, including New York, did not abide by that rule. Under the new rule, the box has been expanded to 28 feet beginning at the end line and ending at a point 28 feet from the end line. It is doubtful this change will have much impact other than to give coaches a little more room to perform their coaching duties. As a side note, the limits of the coaching box also serve to define the location of the first seat of the team benches which, ideally, should be at some distance from the scorer’s table. 2. Official Warning for Misconduct - In the past, officials have always had the ability to warn coaches or bench personnel if their conduct was on the borderline of acceptable. Under the new rules, officials have the ability to stop play and issue an “official warning” to the head coach for “misconduct by the coach or other bench personnel.” When an “official warning” is issued, it will be recorded in the scorebook. However, if the offense is judged to be “major,” a technical foul will be assessed exactly as in the past. Subsequent misconduct situations would mandate a technical foul. It is important to note that “a warning is NOT required prior to calling a technical foul.” The whole purpose of this rule is to permit a clear message to everyone in the gym that subsequent unacceptable behavior WILL RESULT in a technical foul. It is meant to communicate a warning that is universally recognized by everyone that the “last straw” has been reached while avoiding the need for a technical foul. It remains to be seen if the change will have the desired effect. 3. Communication of Fouls to Scorer - In the past, high school officials were directed to use one hand to signal the number of a player who has committed a foul to the Official Scorer. This was formerly justified as being the clearest way to report. Now, under the new rule, the official is directed to use two hands (same mechanic as now used in the NCAA). And, curiously, this is now justified as the clearest way to report. Strange…..This change will have little effect, if any, on communication from the official to the Scorer. 4. Uniforms - More long winded and wordy changes are in effect in Rules 3-4-1d and 3-4-4 regarding uniforms, including what is or is not allowable on identifying names and their permissible locations. The details are not worth repeating. Let’s hope the manufacturers do the right thing so no one has to worry about it. That’s it. If you have any questions about these changes or any other rule situations, please feel free to send an email to the web site.