National Signing Day and the Letter of Intent
Every year ESPN makes a huge deal about National Signing Day. High School athletes from around the country (exclusively football and basketball players) are paraded on t.v. Football recruiting classes are debated ad naseum.
This is only the tip of the ice burg. These are the major Division 1 schools and only the very best of the countries high school football players that we see. What is not seen, are the thousands of other NCAA Division 1 and 2, signees. Local papers are picking up these stories. Schools usually hold signings for families and coaches to attend.
These events are special, not only for those on t.v., but also for a whole new group of students who will change into college uniforms the coming fall.
What is National Signing Day?
This is the first day that you may sign a National Letter of Intent. For NCAA Division 1 and 2, National Signing Day. Not all signing parties will take place on this day. An athlete attending an NCAA Division 1 or 2 program may sign their letter of intent any day on or after National Signing Day.
What is the National Letter of Intent?
The National Letter of Intent (NLI) is a voluntary program for Divisions 1 and 2. By signing the letter of intent, two binding commitments are made.
- A prospective student-athlete agrees to attend the institution full-time for one academic year.
- The institution agrees to provide athletics financial aid for one academic year.
NLI must be accompanied by a scholarship to be valid. It details the amount of financial aid you will receive during the academic year.
When is National Signing Day?
|Initial Signing Date
|Final Signing Date
|Division 1 Basketball (Early Period)
|November 14, 2018
|November 21, 2018
|Division 1 Basketball (Regular Period)
|April 17, 2018
|May 15, 2019
|Division 1 Football (Early Period)
|December 19, 2018
|December 21, 2018
|Division 1 and 2 Football (Midyear JC Transfer)
|December 19, 2018
|January 15, 2019
|Division 1 and 2 Football (Regular Period)
|February 6, 2018
|Division 1: April 1, 2019
Division 2: August 1, 2019
|All Other Division 1 and 2 Sports
|November 14, 2018
|August 1, 2019
What if there is a coaching change?
If a coach leaves the institution for any reason, it doesn’t matter. You are signing a NLI with the institution, not the coach. You remain bound to attend and play for that school.
What happens is you decide you don’t want to play for an institution after you have signed the National Letter of Intent?
You will lose one season of competition in all sports.
If you have received a NLI from a coach or believe you may, you need to watch this Letter of Intent tutorial. It is produced by the National Letter of Intent organization in conjunction with the NCAA.
NAIA Letter of Intent
The NAIA does not have an official letter of intent. You may receive a letter of intent from an individual school. It is not binding, but ethically you should consider very seriously before you sign it.
Coach Steve Babinski of Indiana Wesleyan sums up the NAIA letter of intent well, “There is NO national signing day for NAIA. We are allowed to speak with and sign athletes whenever! A verbal, like NCAA, is just a “gentleman’s” agreement and the signing is official. Side note…The NCAA doesn’t need to honor an NAIA Letter of Intent and vice versa. I have lost 6 or 7 kids that I officially signed to a last minute NCAA DI school looking to snag a kid late. Very sad.”
What about NCAA Division 3 Athletes?
For Division 3 there is never a binding commitment for either the college or the student-athlete. Division 3 coaches are forced to hold their breath and hope you show up in August.
Division 3 athletes don’t have a NLI to sign, but they can sign a “non-binding standardized celebratory form” It can be signed by a prospect after the prospect has been accepted to a Division III institution.
The Verbal Commitment
A verbal commitment occurs when a prospective student-athlete commits to a school verbally before he or she signs a NLI. A student-athlete may announce that he or she is verbally committing to a college at any time. This commitment is not binding on either the college or the student-athlete.
For Division 1 and 2, only signing the NLI accompanied by a financial aid agreement is binding on both the college and the student-athlete.
Local and Wonderful
Most signings are local events. They are a celebration of an athlete’s future in college athletics.
They are usually hosted by the high school. The school usually celebrates all of their college bound athletes at one time. Family and friends are invited to watch the event. High school and club coaches join in. Many times, the current coaches will say a few words about the athlete.
The student athlete will sign the letter of intent. Usually there will be a uniform top or some other gear and a banner for photo ops.
And my favorite signings have refreshments!
A Day of Joy
It is a day of great joy, not only for the few athletes who are featured on t.v., but for the thousands around the country who are honored by their family, friends and teammates.
Is your dream to sign a National Letter of Intent, and live your dream of playing in college?
Do you feel anxiety building, wondering if you will get offers from coaches?
If you feel like you have been stumbling along or have not even started the recruiting process, it is time to take action.
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