Whenever you hear the word ‘bonus,’ what comes to mind first? For most people, it’s the idea of getting freebies, especially after a great performance. In basketball, bonus means otherwise as it refers to the event when a team reaches the maximum number of fouls in a quarter or half. But what does a bonus mean in college basketball?

Bonus in college basketball has a similar meaning to professional basketball leagues like the NBA – It usually means that a team is in a state of fouling out. The main difference with College Basketball is that the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) imposes stricter bonus rules.

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What are the details for bonuses in college basketball? Also, what does a double bonus mean? How many fouls are needed before a team enters a bonus? Find out the answers to these questions (and more) as you continue reading the article.


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What is a Bonus in Basketball?


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Controversy thrives in basketball, particularly when talking about the bonus status. However, two serious controversies changed the way how many basketball enthusiasts see this specific rule.

The first controversy takes place during the 1983 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament. In one particular game in the tournament because head coach Jim Valvano made headlines as his NC State team upset the Houston team in the finals.

The reason behind this dispute is because the head coach is known for his foul-for-profit strategy. In other words, he likes to lead his players into performing deeds that’ll make opposing teams foul out. That way, those opposing teams will enter bonus quickly, resulting in free throws for Valvano’s team.

At that time, the NCAA knew what was transpiring but didn’t have the means to prevent the incidents. So the college sports league devised the double bonus. In turn, teams would think twice before using Valvano’s strategy of using fouls for profit.

Next, there’s the Hack-a-Shaq controversy, which is a strategy used in the NBA. Since the NBA doesn’t use the double bonus rule, players would intentionally use fouls to their advantage. In turn, the player can receive a free throw.

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Take note that it’s not rare to see professional basketball players being bad free-throw shooters, such is the case of Shaquille O’Neal. Since players would ‘hack’ fouls to gain free throws, these instances gave birth to the name ‘Hack-a-Shaq.’

The NBA didn’t like that players are exploiting fouls for their gain. Therefore, in 2016, the league implemented new rules. One rule to note is that teams will now only have one foul to give during the last two minutes of any quarter. Before, teams can still receive violations throughout the entire match but will only receive one foul in the fourth quarter.