FEBRUARY 24 2012 20:05h

NCAA moving kickoffs to 35-yard line

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INDIANAPOLIS, Feb. 24 (UPI) -- The NCAA will move kickoffs to the 35-yard line next season in one of a series of rule changes affecting football player safety, the organization said Friday.

The NCAA's Playing Rules Oversight Panel is following the lead of the NFL in moving kickoffs from the 30-yard-line to the 35. The NFL changed its kickoff point to the 35 last season. The result was a sharp increase in the number of touchbacks and fewer kickoff returns.

Kickoff returns are considered some of the most dangerous plays over the course of a game.

The NCAA took an additional step toward more touchbacks by mandating that the receiving team on a touchback will get the ball at the 25. Previously the next play started at the 20.

PROP also said if a player's helmet comes off during a play, the situation will be treated like an injury and the player must sit out at least one play before returning to the field.

The NCAA revised wording related to blocking below the waist and banned the practice of defensive players jumping over blockers in an attempt to block a punt.

PROP members met via conference call this week with the results of their decisions released Friday. The rules modifications will take affect with the 2012 football season.