Clear-Path-To-The Basket-Foul

Referees may review situations where they are not reasonably certain whether a foul meets the criteria of a clear-path-to-the-basket foul.  Previously, the foul had to be called a clear-path in order to initiate instant replay.

When conducting a replay of a clear-path foul call, referees attempt to confirm that each of the following criteria was met:

  • The ball and an offensive player were positioned between the tip-off-circle extended in the backcourt and the basket in the frontcourt,
  • There was no defender between the ball and the basket,
  • There was no defender ahead of the player being fouled with the opportunity to position himself between the ball and the basket,
  • The defender who committed the foul against the player with the ball was not ahead of him at any time after he entered the frontcourt, and
  • The foul denied the offensive team an opportunity to score

If each of the above was met, the clear-path foul stands. While this seems straightforward, there are some other things that referees must consider:

  • If any defender (including a defender not involved with the foul) is ahead of the player with the ball being fouled at the time of the foul, the clear-path foul would be overturned if referees deem that defender could have obtained a position between the ball and the basket had the play continued;
  • If a defensive player is ahead of a driving offensive player when he enters the frontcourt (one foot in), but then he gets beat and fouls the player from behind or the side, the clear-path foul will be overturned even though he wasn’t between the offensive player and the basket at the time of the foul; and
  • If an offensive player is between the tip-off-circle in the backcourt and the basket in the frontcourt, and passes the ball to a teammate ahead of him, and is then fouled with no defender between him and the basket, a clear-path foul is called even though he no longer has the ball (provided the timing of the call deprives the offensive team from scoring).

When conducting the review, referees also look to determine whether:

  • The play originated in the backcourt, including throw-ins,
  • The offensive team had possession of the ball,
  • The foul was committed prior to the offensive player starting his shooting motion, and
  • Any unsportsmanlike acts or unnecessary contact occurred.

The penalty for a clear-path foul is two free throws and possession.