The 3-point line is staying the same in NCAA basketball, but throwing up an "air ball" that misses everything will cost more than simple embarrassment.

The men's and women's rules committees announced jointly Wednesday they are, for the most part, leaving the game alone. Moving the 3-point arc nine inches to conform with international rules and widening the lane were both debated and rejected.But in a move that defensive-minded fans and coaches are sure to love, the committees decreed the shot clock - 45 seconds for men, 30 for women - no longer will be reset when an attempted shot leaves a player's hand. Instead, it will be reset only when the ball touches the rim. This is certain to place greater value on defense and shot-blocking.

But the significant changes some observers expected to come out of the two-day meetings did not materialize. The men's committee also decided to continue with the 10th-foul, two-shot rule.

"To sum it up, the committee felt the game is in pretty good shape right now," said Hank Nichols, secretary-rules editor for the men's committee. "Some fine-tuning is needed, as it is always. But a major change at this time wasn't in the best interests of the game."

Nichols said there was "some aggressive debate" about moving the 3-point arc from 19 feet, 9 inches, to 20 feet, 6 inches, but declined to reveal the vote of the 12-man committee.

"There was a lot of aggressive debate," Nichols said. "The men's committee felt that there were a couple of factors underlying the decision to stay with the current distance."

The 3-point shot was put in for the 1986-87 season. According to NCAA statistics, 3-point accuracy has declined each season as defenses devote more attention to it. The 3-point accuracy was 38.4 percent in 1987, 36.1 percent this past season.

"One factor was that the shooting percentage for 3-point shots has continued to decrease every year that the line has been in place," he said. "Also, while there are more 3-point attempts, the balance between those and 2-point attempts is reasonable."

Nichols said the NCAA will "aggressively seek" to get non-Division I programs to experiment with the longer 3-point arc and a wider free-throw lane.

"We have people in the junior colleges and some of the Division II and III conferences that don't have chamnpionsips, and some of the summer leagues," Nichols said. "And the subcommittee is going to talk to these people and say, `Listen, here is what we have on an experimental basis. We'd like your league to do it."