Reflection: Bears' AD Zalacca discusses his time serving on NCAA men's basketball rules committee

04.25.14

Of the revered NCAA men's basketball rules committee that includes 13 members, only three prestigious spots have been designated to be filled by Division III representatives.

The other remaining legislative positions include six members from Division I, and three members from Division II.  An additional member is a non-voting secretary-rules editor.

With the completion of his second four-year term serving on the NCAA men's basketball rules committee on the horizon, SUNY Potsdam athletic director James Zalacca can look back fondly on his time served as a key legislator in overseeing several rule alterations. 

Zalacca will head to Indianapolis, Indiana, from May 6-9 for a final meeting with the rules committee.  His term expires in September of this year.

"As a former college and high school basketball coach, I've invested a lot of energy and time into this sport," said Zalacca, who served terms from 1999 through 2002 and 2011 through 2014.

"This was an opportunity outside of coaching to continue a guardianship over the game and an active involvement with not only how it's played, but officiated."

During Zalacca's tenure, he helped enact four major rule changes with more clearly defined guidelines on freedom of movement calls, blocking/charging calls, and flagrant one or two calls.

A fourth initiative was created to provide further reviews on the monitors for disputed calls within the last two minutes of play and overtime.

"I've been a long-time advocate for freedom of movement," Zalacca said.

Freedom of movement had to do with garnering more space for offensive players when it comes to hand checks, bumping players who cut to the basket and any other definitive act that may impede an offensive player's movement.

"I think the game has moved away from finesse and toward a more physical brand. It's made offensive play far more difficult.  Over the course of the past few years, there has been an emphasis on increased scoring.  This year, scoring increased slightly so it seems like the new rules had a positive effect on offensive play."

"Spectators like to see offensive players demonstrate their skills and it seemed like aggressive play negated that aspect of the game and took away from offensive flow."

Another broader discussion was opened on the block/charge call.  And, distinctions between flagrant one and two fouls were now based upon intent of the player.

"I was honored to be selected as a representative for Division III and have the opportunity to speak on behalf of our membership," Zalacca added.

"I felt that was a major part of my responsibility. Beyond that, it was important to have the ability to shape the way the game is played not only for this year, but for future years to come."

Since 2000, Zalacca has wore many hats during his tenure as the Bears Director of Athletics and Physical Education. 

Among the multitude of professional organizations in the NCAA that he has served include the Division III men's lacrosse championship selection committee chair (2001-2005), the East Region men's basketball selection committee, the South Region Soccer Tournament Chair, and the men's ice hockey championship tournament co-chair.

Within the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC), Zalacca has been the SUNYAC President (for the academic year of 2000-01), the men's sports committee chair, a constitution and bylaws committee member and a finance committee member.

On the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) front, he has served in the Executive Council (2000-03), the men's basketball upstate region selection chair, the baseball selection committee chair, lacrosse selection committee chair, and officiating/negotiating committee.