The National Letter of Intent (NLI) signing period is a thrilling moment in the college journey for prospective student-athletes. Years of organizing and managing a diligent college recruiting plan finally conclude and a new chapter begins.
The National Letter of Intent is a legal document a high school athlete signs to signify an athletic scholarship award to an NCAA Division 1 or Division 2 college. Where a verbal commitment (beginning August 1 following the sophomore year) is non-binding, a National Letter of Intent is an obligatory agreement between the student-athlete and a National Letter of Intent institution.
Prospective student-athletes signing the National Letter of Intent in 2021-2022 for 2022-2023 enrollment may officially sign between November 10, 2021 (early period) and August 1, 2022 (regular period).
Prospective student-athletes who are committing to a college or university and plan to sign the NLI must sign within seven days of the issue date. Below are some important points to remember when making the commitment to sign:
- The student-athlete’s parent or legal guardian must also sign the document.
- College coaches cannot be present during the signing.
- When you sign an NLI, you agree to attend the institution listed on the NLI for one academic year in exchange for that institution awarding athletics financial aid for one academic year.
- An institution is strictly prohibited from allowing you to sign an NLI if you are a non-scholarship walk-on.
- Once you have signed the NLI, make a copy for your files and send the other copy back to the institution.
The National Letter of Intent signing period has recently gone through some changes. Except for football and men’s and women’s D1 basketball, prospects can begin signing the NLI as of November 10, 2021, and continue to sign anytime through August 1, 2022.
Division 3 and certain D-1AA colleges (The Ivy League for example), that do not offer athletic scholarships are not bound by the NLI timelines. The recruiting calendar for these institutions is tied closely with specific admission application deadlines.
Therefore, communication with coaches at these institutions remains critical, and clear knowledge of specific recruiting procedures and application deadlines is vital to creating a seamless path in closing out the college search
It is important the prospective student-athlete understands his/her obligation to the offering institution. When signing the NLI, a prospect agrees to attend the offering institution for one academic year. The institution agrees to provide the prospect with an athletics scholarship for one academic year. (Note: the athletic aid agreement may be awarded for more than one academic year in Division I per NCAA rules).
A prospective student-athlete satisfies the terms of the National Letter of Intent by attending the offering institution for at least one academic year (i.e., two semesters or three quarters) as a full-time student or by graduating from a two-year college.
The prospect who will be entering the offering four-year institution as full-time students is permitted to sign the NLI. The prospective student-athlete must be qualified to enroll at the offering institution for the upcoming fall term.
The NLI can be sent by regular mail, or by electronic correspondence (email, fax, mobile app, etc.). Beginning the first day that the NLI is issued, a student-athlete and their legal guardian have seven days to sign and return the contract. While athletes may receive their NLI before the initial signing date, they are not permitted to sign the document until the start of National Signing Day.
After year one, the offering institution is required to inform student-athletes if their scholarship is being renewed and the terms of the award.
The National Letter of Intent signing period represents an endpoint to the college recruiting process. With the help of their parents, coaches, and teammates, prospective student-athletes have created their own personal roadmap to their college choice.
Identifying and committing to your college of choice is an important life decision. Reaching that decision involves a clear plan of action and a dedicated commitment to executing every recruiting assignment from start to finish.