Congratulations to those prospects who have committed to a school and will have the opportunity to sign a National Letter of Intent with their NCAA Division I or II future school during the upcoming signing period.
Here are some NLI general reminders and points to keep in mind:
Signing the National Letter of Intent commits the athlete to attend the school they sign with for one full academic year in exchange for receiving an athletic scholarship. If an athlete withdraws from school before completing one academic year, they might incur penalties upon transfer to another school, unless the school they signed with releases them. (This release is different than a release to speak with other schools about a transfer – two separate processes.)
The NLI must be accompanied by a financial aid agreement from the school the prospect will sign with. If both documents are not signed, the NLI will not be valid. Be sure to confirm that the financial aid agreement reflects the same amount of athletic scholarship that was offered during the recruiting process.
Coaches are not permitted to deliver the National Letter of Intent in person. Also, coaches are not permitted to be present when the prospect signs the NLI. The family of a prospect will sometimes ask if the coach can be present so they can get a picture together when their son or daughter signs the NLI. This is ok for Junior Colleges or NAIA schools, but not for NCAA coaches.
The financial aid agreement commits the school to provide an athletic scholarship to the athlete for at least one academic year. Athletes must be notified by July 1st each year whether their athletic scholarship will be renewed for the same amount, increased, decreased, or cancelled for the upcoming academic year. If an athlete’s scholarship is reduced or cancelled, the athlete must be notified by the school that a hearing opportunity is available to them.
Prospects who are planning to play both football and another sport at the college level (applies to both Division I and II) should not sign with their school until the football signing period in February. A number of years ago, some schools tried to get an advantage by having football recruits sign in other sports during the November signing period. That loophole was closed, and now football players or true dual-sport athletes who sign in November will be ineligible for practice and competition in football during their freshman year, and will forfeit a season of competition.
It’s permissible to “double sign” with an NCAA school and a Junior College. That’s somewhat common since some players want to “lock in” with an NCAA program, but also may want to attend Junior College to have an opportunity to be drafted after freshman year. (The Junior College signing date for baseball is January 15.)
Players who sign with an NCAA school, but start out at a junior college, need to keep in mind that the National Letter of Intent that they signed with the NCAA school remains binding on them until they graduate from the Junior College. Athletes who sign with NCAA school A, but change their mind and want to attend NCAA school B after junior college, will still be bound to NCAA school A if they want to transfer before completing their Associates degree. The other option is to obtain a complete release from the National Letter of Intent.