his game," Steitz recalled.
"And one Division I coach from the East
called me an idiot."
"It's a step backward," noted Louisville
coach Denny Crum.
"We just had a year of chaos," said
Duke's Mike Krzyzewski at the time.
"Now, we're introducing chaos."
"I think you should get three points for a
lay up, rather than three points for a perimeter shot," voiced Georgetown's John
And some of the other things the coaches
and writers were saying about Steitz and his
three-point baby had better be left unprinted.
But after the first year of the rule, the
coaches changed their feelings about the
new bonus bomb. Suddenly, 80 percent of
the college coaches were in favor of it.
Even Indiana's Bob Knight, who wanted
Steitz on a chopping block for starting the
three-point insanity, had reason to change
his mind after that inaugural 1986-87 campaign with the trey.
"I remember seeing Bob at the Hall of
Fame golf tournament in Springfield just after we passed the rule and he was very
much opposed to it," Steitz reflected. "I
told him at the time that he'd win the
NCAA champioship with it — especially
with Steve Alford."
"I'm told the three-point field
goal revolutionalized the game
more than any rule. I personally
feel the elimination of the center
jump in 1937 was the more
dramatic change, but I had
nothing to do with that one"
Secretary-Rules Editor NCAA
Basketball Rules Committee
That next season in the Louisiana Super-
dome before 64,959, Indiana beat Syracuse, 74-73, for the NCAA championship
on Keith Smart's baseline jumper with four
seconds to play.
At the post game press conference,
Knight acknowledged Steitz as "the father
of the three-point basket" and added,
All-America guard Steve Alford had
more than a little to do with that title victory. He fired a game-high 23 points — and
went 7-for-10 from three-point territory.
After four years of THE SHOT, Steitz is
convinced it is here to stay. "The concept is
great — it did what the rule purported to
do...open up the game and floor and force
teams to play defense away from the basket," he said.
"The concept is in concrete, no doubt
about it. The only question is the distance
(19 feet, 9 inches). There is some feeling
about putting the distance back, maybe to
the Olympic distance of 20 feet, 6 inches."
Back in 1967 in Louisville, after UCLA
with a 7-1 center named Lew Alcindor won
the NCAA title over Dayton, the rules committee eliminated the dunk. That was the
year Steitz joined the committee as assistant
ner stall working before a national television audience.
That game, Steitz feels, had a lot to do
with the arrival of the 45-second clock in
the college game.
Many things, of course, happened to the
game long before Bunn and Steitz had anything to do with it. Dr. Naismith's original
13 rules which were written in 1891 only
remotely resemble the game that is played
Probably the most radical change of the
pre-Steitz era was the elimination of the
center jump after a basket in 1937. The man
behind that move was Oswald Tower, the
The height of the goal, which has been set at 10 feet for nearly 100 years, could be the
game's next breakthrough, says Steitz.
editor to John Bunn.
In 1976, Steitz' first as editor, the dunk
was returned to the college game. "People
felt it was the home run of basketball — it
generated excitement," Steitz justified.
Then, in 1981, in an effort to speed up the
game, the jump ball was eliminated except
for the start of the game and overtimes.
A more striking change came to the game
in 1985 when, according to Steitz, "after 25
years of research," the 45-second clock was
It is said that one of the catalysts of the
rule was a well-documented game the year
before between No. 1-ranked North Carolina and No. 3 Virginia for the Atlantic Coast
Conference championship. North Carolina
coach Dean Smith had his storied four-cor-
basketball rules interpreter for 44 years and
one of the first electees to the Naismith
Basketball Hall of Fame.
According to Steitz, the "Tower Philosophy" best represents what the rules committee believes and supports regarding the
officiating of a game. The philosophy is expressed as follows: "It is the purpose of the
rules to penalize a player who by reason of
an illegal act has placed his opponent to a
And Steitz points out that he was not the
only rulesmaker to catch flak when a
change was made. Tower encouraged his
committee to eliminate the center jump despite the protests of Dr. Naismith.
The NCAA basketball game has never
been better — "it's at its peak," claims