Maine’s high school basketball coaches should follow the rules

Televised college games are again negatively influencing some of our state’s high school basketball coaches, who are imitating college coaches.

In the past, I’ve criticized the influence of the college game as some of the state’s coaches imitate the college style of play on their high school teams and the results are lack of basketball fundamentals and a low basketball IQ, which then cause turnovers and poor shot selection.

The latest imitation by some Maine high school coaches really bothers me as a former player, coach, athletic director and official.

In college games, many times the coaches are leaving the coaching box before a game is over to congratulate the opposing coach. Bench players are leaving the bench and players on the floor are hugging and shaking hands with the clock still running as the team with the ball is dribbling out the clock.

By rule, if a high school coach leaves the coaching box, it is a technical foul. Players on the bench cannot leave the bench while the clock is running except to applaud an outstanding play, during a 60-second timeout, or between quarters.

Something that has been overlooked in college is the coaching box rule. Unless it’s for unsportsmanlike conduct, before coaches can receive a technical foul, they have to be warned for being out of the coaching box. Officials overlook this situation because the game is ending.

Most high school coaches wouldn’t imitate this if they hadn’t seen it in college games. The college rule isn’t the high school rule.

This situation has been brought to the attention of Maine Basketball Commissioner Peter Webb who sent a memo to officials, coaches and athletic directors through their associations, the Maine Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association, the Maine Association of Basketball Coaches and the state’s five officials boards. All of them endorsed the rule.

Webb’s memo stated if the rule is not followed, then a technical foul should be called on the coach.

If I was still an AD, I would address this immediately the first time any of my coaches broke the rule. As a player, coach, official and AD there were rules that I didn’t like, but I respected the game so I always followed them.

What kind of an example are coaches setting for players if they intentionally break this rule?

The next thing that will occur is that high school bench players will also imitate the college players by leaving the bench early and opponents on the floor will be shaking hands and hugging before time runs out.

Coaches should be setting an example for players by teaching them the lesson that we may not like certain rules or laws, but we should respect them by obeying them or we can expect to be penalized.

Usually, in officials against coaches situations, I side with coaches, but in this situation, I side with the rulebook.

Commissioner Webb and high school officials aren’t the villains in this situation because they rightly believe that coaches should be able to wait for 10 seconds to do the right thing and follow the rule.