INDIANAPOLIS - College basketball players might want to start polishing up their long-range shooting.

The men's basketball rules committee approved a measure yesterday that would move the three-point line back 1 foot in 2008-09 - from 19 feet, 9 inches to 20 feet, 9 inches. If approved by the playing rules oversight committee on May 25, it would mark the first major alteration to the three-point shot since its inception in 1986-87.

The move comes after more than a decade of debate about whether to move the line. The extended line has been used on an experimental basis in some early-season tournaments and NCAA statistics have not shown a dramatic change in shooting percentages from the longer line. But the rules change had never previously passed the rules committee for regular-season and postseason games.

"I am a little surprised they have made the change, but I have no real problem with it," North Carolina coach Roy Williams said. "I am certainly glad they didn't move it back to the NBA distance and certainly glad the committee did not widen the lane along with moving the three-point line.

"The rules committee looks very seriously at these issues, and they are hopeful that changes they make will indeed help the game. This particular change should create more space and give teams more movement on offense."

Chairman Larry Keating said the committee considered two proposals. The other would have moved the line to 20 feet, 6 inches, the same distance as international three-pointers. Both are shorter than the NBA line, which is 23 feet, 9 inches at the top of the key and 22 feet at its shortest point in the baseline corners.

"We made it a point to come up with a distance that was correct for us and that didn't necessarily mimic the international line," Keating said.

Women's rules committee chairwoman Ronda Seagraves said the three-point line will remain unchanged in women's basketball.

The new men's rule would be adopted by all three college divisions, and Keating expects the measure to pass in 3 weeks.

NCAA statistics show that three-point percentages since 1992 have hovered between 34.1 and 35.6 percent each year. Stats from the experimental line showed shooting percentages between 34 and 35 percent. *