NCAA National Letter of Intent – Should you sign…Or maybe not?

Wednesday, November 13 is the initial date for high school seniors to sign an NCAA National Letter of Intent in all sports other than Football.The Football signing date is December 18 for Division I programs and February 5 for Division II programs.

We get many phone calls this time of year asking about the NCAA National Letter of Intent.  This article provides basic facts about what the NLI and athletic scholarship are and how they work together.  I also touch on an issue that some athletes may want to consider –  whether or not they SHOULD sign a National Letter of Intent.

Basic facts about the NCAA National Letter of Intent

  • The NCAA National Letter of intent is not the same thing as an athletic scholarship agreement from an NCAA university. While the two documents go hand-in-hand, they are not one and the same.
  • A National Letter of Intent can’t be issued to a recruit unless that recruit is being offered an athletic scholarship. However, it is not a requirement for a recruit to sign a National Letter of Intent at the same time that they sign the university scholarship agreement being offered.
  • When a prospect signs an NLI, they are committing to attend that school for at least one full academic year in exchange for their scholarship. Once a prospect has signed an NLI, other DI and DII programs are to stop recruiting that prospect.
  • While NCAA DI universities are permitted to offer multi-year scholarships, the majority of DI athletic teams only offer one-year scholarships which are renewable each year. NCAA DII athletic programs are prohibited from offering multi-year scholarships.

Should you Sign an NLI…OR MAYBE NOT?

An NLI is a legal document. If an athlete signs an NLI, they are now “locked in” to the school for one full year. Getting out of the NLI once it is signed can be difficult and sometimes costly.

A benefit to NOT signing an NLI is that if there is a coaching change before the signee begins college, the athlete isn’t locked in to that university and can pursue other options.

There are pros and cons to signing a National Letter of Intent. We can explain those in a confidential phone consultation. For questions about the National Letter of Intent or about athletic scholarships, schedule a confidential scholarship strategies consult online or contact us at or 913-766-1235.