2024 GHSA Policies

ghsalaxlogofiThere are a number of GHSA policies and procedures that officials should be aware of.

The information included in this post was taken from the GHSA Constitution and By-Laws 2023-2024.

Referees should be sure to make themselves familiar with these policies especially ones regarding termination or games and no-shows by teams.


Start Times

Only one school night per week may be used with competitions beginning at 6:00 p.m. or later. (Section 8, F)

A single game must begin no later than 7:30 pm and a double-header must begin no later than 6:00 pm. (Section 10, F)

Minimum 30-minute warm up period between games. (Section 10, F)

Length of Contests

  • Varsity contests are four 12-minute stop time quarters.
  • Sub-Varsity games are four 10-minute stop time quarters.  (Section 10,G)

Mercy Rule

The GHSA rule supersedes the NFHS Mercy Rule. If a team is ten (10) or more goals down at any point in the contest the game is played with a running clock that stops only for timeouts. (Section 10, H)


Any game that ends in a tie will be resolved by playing a sudden victory overtime period as outlined in Rule 3-4 of the NFHS Boys Lacrosse Rules Book.

There is no overtime in sub-varsity games. (Section 10, I)


The use of Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT) for ALL contests is mandated as follows per Section 10 J:

  • WBGT must be measured 15 minutes prior to start of contest, coaches and officials must be notified.
  • If WBGT is equal or above 86.0 F, an ice immersion tub must be present and ready for use.
  • If WBGT is equal or above 88.0 F, Referee’s will take a 3-minute hydration break at or near the midway point of each 12-minute period (ball out of bounds/foul assessed or goal scored). Teams to the bench area during hydration break, no coaches permitted on field.

No Shows

Single Game or Multiple Games with Different Teams

If a team does not arrive at the game site for any contest without notifying the host opponent of a late arrival, that contest will be forfeited 30 minutes after the scheduled game-time. If the second game or contest was to be played by a different team (EXAMPLE: girl/boy or JV/varsity combination events), then a decision to forfeit that game will be made 30 minutes after the scheduled beginning of the second game.

Multiple Games by the Same Team

If there are to be multiple games by the same team and the team does not arrive at the game site without notifying the host opponent of a late arrival, all games will be forfeited 30 minutes after the scheduled game-time of the first contest. EXAMPLE: softball or baseball doubleheaders

Delayed, Interrupted, Suspended or Terminated Games

Any GHSA competition may be interrupted due to human, mechanical, or natural causes when it is necessary to protect the safety of players and spectators. (2.93)

The GHSA requires lightning detectors at all outdoor athletic activities. When a lightning detector indicates a dangerous situation, the game manager will notify the Referee. At that point, the official must suspend play and all participants and fans should go to a place of safety (NOTE: If officials spot lightning before being notified, they may suspend play) When the detector indicates that it is safe to resume play, the contest may resume in accordance with procedures published in the NFHS Rules Book (2.93 a)

Key to determining whether a contest should be completed is whether or not the two teams are in the same classification. 

Teams in Different Classification

For all games involving teams of different classifications, there will be up to a two-hour delay (cumulative) before the contest is terminated. (2.93 c)

All weekday contests between teams of differing classifications must end by 11:30 pm (2.66 d)

  • If the game is terminated before it has reached the halfway point, the contest is declared a “no contest.”
  • If the game is terminated after it has reached the halfway point, the score at the point of termination is final.

Teams in The Same Classification

For games involving teams of the same classification, all contests must played to completion.

  • No mandatory two-hour delay.
  • 11:30 curfew is waived.
  • Administrators from the competing schools may agree to postpone the contest and resume competition at the point of interruption at a later time.
  • The team that is behind may choose not to resume the contest at a later date.

Payment of Officials for Delayed, Suspended or Terminated Games

In the event a scheduled contest cannot be started due to weather-related conditions, officials who have arrived at the contest site will be paid 50% of the contest fee plus the travel allowance.

If a game is interrupted by weather or darkness before it becomes a completed game, the officials will be paid 50% of the game fee.

If a game is an official game at the point of interruption, the officials will be paid the full fee.

Beyond these conditions, no officials group(s) may hold the schools responsible for weather-related postponements.

Teams arriving late for a scheduled contest by 30 minutes or more shall forfeit the game, and shall be responsible for payment of the officials unless prior arrangements are made in a timely manner. Consideration will be given to emergency situations over which the traveling school has no control. (Section 8, J)

Absence of Officials

In the unlikely event that game officials do not arrive for a contest, both schools should agree on one of the following procedures (2.95):

  • Delay the game until a new set of officials can arrive.
  • Agree to play the game on another date except a Sunday.
  • Use registered officials who might be in attendance at the contest.
  • Use coaches or school personnel from both schools.
  • Use formerly registered officials who might be in attendance at the contest.

In the event that officials do not show for a scheduled event without notification or emergency situation, a fine shall be assessed to the officials association for twice the amount of the game fees and that amount be divided between the competing schools. (4.54)

Sportsmanship and Officials Safety

It shall be the responsibility of the home or host school to take the following precautions at all GHSA athletic events (2.70):

  • Have an administrator (or designee) from the host school to function as “game manager”
  • insure the comfort and security of all players, coaches, and officials.
  • Security escorts must be provided to game officials by the host school at all GHSA sanctioned contests, before, during and following the contest – including to their vehicles.
  • Provide a safe and secure changing area for contest officials, free from traffic by school staff, students and spectators. (2.70, 2.77)
  • Announcers may not criticize coaches, officials, or schools, and shall be fair and impartial in their descriptions (2.83 e)

Disqualification and Ejection

Any player who is assessed five or more minutes or personal fouls is suspended from the remained of the game and must sit out the next scheduled game. (2.72 d 3)

Unsporting acts committed by players or coaches will be handled as follows (2.78):

  • Official may eject the player or coach after the expiration of a contest, but while the officials still have jurisdiction.
  •  If official(s) witness the behavior after their jurisdiction has ended,  a Game Report must be filed with the GHSA office.
  • The Executive Director has authority to penalize schools of the guilty parties regardless of whether or not an ejection has occurred.
  • Coaches, administrators, contest officials or players are not to make comments to the media that are critical of officials and/or their calls in a game (2.74)

Penalties for Ejected Coach (2.72 d 3)

  • 1st Ejection:  $250.00 fine and suspension from next two games.
  • 2nd Ejection: $500.00 fine and suspension from next two games; and must complete the “NFHS Sportsmanship Course” online before returning.
  • 3rd Ejection: Season suspension; can not coach in any activity at any GHSA member school until successful completion of “GHSA Principles for Coaching.”

Penalties for Ejected Player (2.72 d 3) 

  • 1st Ejection: Completion of the “NFHS Sportsmanship Course” online and suspension from next two games.
  • 2nd Ejection: $200 fine and suspension from next two games.
  • 3rd Ejection: Season suspension.

NOTE: When a player, coach or team attendant has a second ejection in the same activity during a school year, that individual shall be withheld from competition for twice the time period of a normal suspension.

The GHSA Executive Director shall have the authority to levy additional penalties for repeat offenders.

Any student who intentionally injures or intentionally attempts to injure another student, coach, official, spectator, or other person immediately before, during, or immediately after any GHSA-sponsored activity, may be declared ineligible to participate in future GHSA activities by the GHSA Executive Director. NOTE: The notice, hearing, and appellate procedures set forth in the GHSA Constitution shall be applicable to such rulings (2.73)

Game Reports

All game incident reports MUST be submitted electronically through the GHSA MIS System by the association secretary within (48) hours of the incident date. The following is the policy for submitting game incident reports to the GHSA Office (Officiating Handbook 3) :

  • EJECTIONS – Require the name of the individual, uniform number if a player, respective school, specific
    violation, rule book reference, and a brief and professional summary of the action. Game reports resulting
    in an ejection MUST be submitted within (24) hours of the incident date.
  • SPORTSMANSHIP/GAME MANAGEMENT – Submit a brief and professional summary of any
    “sportsmanship” issue involving players, coaches, and/or spectators prior to, during, or after the
    game/contest. Submit a “Game Report” for any incident related to failure of the host school to provide a
    Game Manager, adequate security personnel, secure and private officials’ dressing area, problem issues
    with playing venue, or issues that occur following the completion of the contest.
  • INJURY REPORTS – Submit a report on any “major” injury that requires a player(s) to be taken to an
    emergency medical facility.

GHSA Concussion Policy

Any athlete who exhibits signs, symptoms or behaviors consistent with a concussion shall be immediately removed from the practice or contest and shall not return to play until an appropriate health care professional has determined that no concussion has occurred.

NOTE: An appropriate health care professional may include: licensed physician (MD/DO) or another licensed individual under the supervision of a licensed physician, such as a nurse practitioner, physician’s assistant, or certified athletic trainer who has received training in concussion evaluation and management.

No athlete is allowed to return to a game the same day that a concussion has been diagnosed OR cannot be ruled out. (2.68)