FSU receivers sport in-game Apple Watches, and here’s what the NCAA rules say about it

As we enter another year of college football, Florida State dominated LSU over the weekend with a 21-point victory. As it turns out, the Apple Watch may have played a role in that victory as two of FSU’s wide receivers were spotted wearing Apple’s device during the game.

Image credits: Charles Mays (1) and Ben Ofer (2)

We’ve seen athletes at the collegiate and professional levels wear Apple Watches during games a few times over the years. And each time it happens, the Apple Watch makes headlines. Sunday’s game between LSU and FSU is no exception.

Eagle-eyed users on Twitter were the first to spot that FSU wide receivers Keon Coleman and Johnny Wilson were donning Apple Watches during the game on Sunday. Coincidentally, Coleman and Wilson both had excellent showings during the game as well.

Naturally, these pictures led to debate about whether NCAA rules allow players to wear devices like the Apple Watch during games. As reported by the Tallahassee Democrat, the NCAA rules include an affordance specifically for the Apple Watch and other wearables.

According to the NCAA, “wearing of any electronic signal devices” is prohibited during games but with a crucial exception.

According to the NCAA, wearing of any electronic signal devices is illegal except in certain circumstances. Those certain circumstances would be a medically prescribed hearing aid of the sound-amplifier type for hearing-impaired players or a device for transmission or reception of data specifically and only for purposes of health and safety.

The Apple Watch easily falls into that second category, serving as a key device for “health and safety” for users.

Specific details about why Coleman and Wilson specifically chose to wear their Apple Watches during Sunday’s game are unclear. A spokesperson for FSU simply said that it was a “personal choice” for the two wide receivers.

As my colleague Zac put it in Slack today, this “explains the overwhelming defeat LSU suffered after being tied at halftime.”

It’s tough to identify which Apple Watch models Coleman and Wilson wore during the game. It looks like Wilson was rocking an Apple Watch Ultra, while Coleman appeared to be wearing a stainless steel model.

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