Today is the final installment in the six-part series designed to help student-athletes and their parents know what to expect at the various stages of the recruiting process. I briefly explained these stages in the post, Recruiting – Gauging Their Level Of Interest; this series goes into greater detail at each step, helping you maximize every opportunity to market yourself.
This post will discuss “The National Letter of Intent” (NLI) and detail exactly what signing this document means.
You made it through the recruiting process to this ultimate and important step; the last step in the recruiting process, but the first in your collegiate playing experience. This step takes on increased importance, because unlike many of the previous steps (The Offer or your verbal commitment) this step IS binding. The NLI (National Letter of Intent) used by the majority of NCAA schools, is a legal, binding agreement that ties you to the issuing college and visa-versa. Non-NLI member colleges are the Ivy League schools, Military Academies, Division III and NAIA institutions, prep schools and junior colleges.
Signing date (the first day of the regular signing period) for football is typically the first Wednesday in February. The dates for all the sports can be found at this link: NCAA NLI Guide
Here are some things to keep in mind regarding the NLI and signing day:
- The NLI must be accompanied by an athletics financial aid agreement. An institution cannot ask a student-athlete to sign a letter of intent to “walk on” or if it is accompanied only by a financial aid agreement from a non-athletic (i.e. academic) source.
- The NLI may not be signed prior to the signing dates for the applicable sport. A coach cannot and should not ask a student-athlete to sign the NLI early “just to get a head start on things” unless your sport has an applicable early signing period.
- A parent or legal guardian must also sign the NLI if the prospective student-athlete is under 21 years old, regardless of marital status.
- A coach or institutional representative may not hand deliver the NLI off campus or be present off campus at the time of signing. The NLI will probably be delivered express mail, courier service, or regular mail. It can also be delivered electronically via email or fax. In the “old days” coaches, often head coaches, often head coaches competing for the same prospect, would show up at this top recruits high school with the NLI in hand. The NCAA felt like this was putting too much pressure on the prospective student-athlete and their family on signing day. It is still possible for a student-athlete to have more than one NLI delivered to them, but they will be able to decide which to sign without the pressure of a coach hovering over them.
- It will be up to your high school to organize any signing day event.
- Once you sign the NLI, all other institutions must respect the student-athletes NLI signing by ceasing all recruiting.
- The student-athlete (and parent/ guardian) will sign two copies of the NLI and athletic scholarship agreement. They will keep one and return one to the institution.
- The NLI binds a student-athlete to the institution, not the coach. If the coach leaves, the student-athlete is still bound by the provisions of the NLI
- There are various circumstances that could make the NLI declared null and void. These are detailed at this site: NCAA NLI Guide
On a final note, I think it is important to remember that, although the recruiting process is over, your collegiate experience is just beginning. In order for you to compete at this next level, it is imperative that you continue ALL the things (or more) that put you in a position to receive an athletic scholarship and sign a NLI. Continue working to make yourself a remarkable, Purple Cow athlete! An athlete that was ultimately Wanted… and Rewarded!
Thanks to Woods Recruiting for featuring this post on their site…. If you get a chance, pop over and see the site… and a “Like” for my post would be appreciated!
Jeff Floyd – email@example.com