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High school athletes who take their sport seriously may be looking for that light at the end of the tunnel of their senior year: the National Letter of Intent to play for a college or university. The National Letter of Intent marks the end of the recruiting process and sets up student-athletes for the next phase of their academic and athletic careers.
But what do those letters really mean? Let's take a look. It is important that all athletes and their families realize what a huge commitment this is.
The National Letter of Intent is a Binding Agreement
Signing an National Letter of Intent means you agree to attend that college or university for one academic year. In return, the educational institution agrees to award athletics financial aid for one year.
The athlete commits to the institution, not the coaching staff. Should a coach leave, you are still committed to the institution for an academic year, not an athletic season. You must be a full-time student to fulfill the agreement. Even if you quit the team, you must remain at the institution for an academic year.
Do I Have to Sign an National Letter of Intent?
Athletes are not required to sign an National Letter of Intent, but many choose to. Signing a National Letter of Intent finalizes the recruiting process. Once it's signed, other schools are required to stop recruiting the athlete.
The National Letter of Intent is different from a verbal commitment. Verbal commitments are not binding and can be changed.
You need to be sure you are fully committed to the school before you sign on the dotted line.
Can I Get Out of an National Letter of Intent?
Yes, but it is extremely difficult. Athletes can ask for a full or partial release, but schools are not obligated to grant it.
If your school says no, you can petition for a release, but petitions are heard on a case-by-case basis, and the outcome is up to the review board.
Breaking the agreement of an National Letter of Intent can mean that you lose a year of eligibility, so weigh the decision carefully.
For further information, check out the National Letter of Intent's website through the NCAA.