National basketball rules committee to hear a shot clock proposal

Smoky Hill Mountain Vista boys basketball

(Marlee Smith/

Among the 23 proposals the NFHS Basketball Rules Committee will hear this spring is one that would nationalize a 35-second shot clock.

The proposal is nothing new to the committee — it has been a topic of conversation for decades — but does come at a time with increased scrutiny around the fact that the high school game does not use a shot clock. The NBA and NCAA, of course, do use a shot clock.

One thing's for sure: If approved, it would be a major change in high school basketball.

"Implementing a shot clock fundamentally changes the face of the high school game," said CHSAA assistant commissioner Bert Borgmann, who oversees basketball. "Perhaps the best argument for a shot clock is that it brings the four largest areas in organized basketball under a similar rules code: Professional, college, international, and high school."

As a state that follows NFHS rules 100 percent, Colorado does not use a shot clock. CHSAA surveyed the state's basketball coaches three years ago, and opinion was split nearly down the middle.

This latest proposal could establish a 35-second shot clock across the board, however the rules committee does have the freedom to allow for state adoption should they desire. There has been a trend over the past several years to move away from state association adoptions to try and keep the rules consistent from state-to-state.

As part of all proposals that will be considered, the NFHS sent out a questionnaire to states to determine what rules needed to be addressed.

Borgmann sent in Colorado's response. He responded that Colorado would support a shot clock, so long as the following parameters were met:

  • It is used at all levels, from sub-varsity to varsity. "Why would only use it for varsity when we are developing some players at other levels to become varsity players?" Borgmann said.
  • It is operated by an adult, and they are trained properly. "Our games would now need an additional clock operator who is a big piece of the game," Borgmann said.
  • It is not a state-association adoption, but is mandated nation-wide. "I think it's important that it be a national rule for all states, and that gives consistency across the board," Borgmann said.
  • That it would be phased in, and not started immediately. "If this happens, we've got to allow our schools to adapt to the change, and that will require an implementation period of some sort," Borgmann said.

The shot clock has long been debated at the high school level, and is a near-annual proposal discussed by the rules committee.

"This conversation is no different than the initial stages for the implementation of the 3-point shot," Borgmann said. "That, too, fundamentally changed the way high school basketball was played. Leading up to that change, there were similar discussions at all levels and ultimately the evolution of the sport determined that it was a necessary change.

"So, when talking about the shot clock, the NFHS rules committee has to wrestle with the major question: Is there a need to change the high school game?" Borgmann continued. "Over the last decade, there have been states or sections of states who have, on their own, determined that the shot clock was needed for the sport and implemented that."

Borgmann believes the shot clock may well be on its way in high school.

"Whether the shot clock is approved or not approved this year, this conversation will continue and ultimately I believe we will have a shot clock in high school basketball at some point," Borgmann said.

Colorado submitted five proposals to be heard by the rules committee, including one where goaltending only occurs when a defensive player interferes with a basket, not an offensive player.