Managing the Recruiting Process
National Letter of Intent
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National Letter of Intent
The National Letter of Intent (NLI) is a signed contract between a student-athlete and their college. The contract must include an athletic aid agreement or athletic scholarship that lists the amount of athletic based aid that an athlete is being offered during their freshman year. To be eligible to sign a NLI, student-athletes must be registering for a 4 year NCAA D1 or D2 school or transferring to a 4 year institution from a two year college. The NLI can be sent through the following mediums: mail, email, fax, mobile app, etc.
What Does Signing the National Letter of Intent Imply?
Student-athlete is committing to the university for one year. The NLI is not signed after freshman year, and the school is required to let an athlete know if their scholarship is being renewed.
The institution is confirming to provide an athletic scholarship to the athlete for that period. Please note that the NLI and financial aid package are two distinct documents and an athlete needs to sign both.
Note: Over one year NLIs are only permitted at the D1 level.
NLI Signing Dates and Information
An athlete can sign a National Letter of Intent after the final signing period, but it is rare that spots are still available.
The applicable signing period should be checked once a student-athlete receives their NLI document. The document must be signed within seven days of the issued date if the signing period has already begun for their sport. If they receive their NLI prior to the opening of the signing period, they are required to wait until 7 am of the opening day. It is also important to note that a parent or legal guardian is also required to sign the document, and college coaches are prohibited from being present during the signing. Many student-athletes will wait to sign their NLI after the first date; however, there is a chance they may lose their spot.
Early Signing Period, Regular Signing Period and Early Enrollment
Early Signing Period
Athletes in all sports except soccer and men’s water polo have an early signing period. This is the first period where high school seniors are allowed to sign their NLI and ultimately confirm their offer. The early signing period is ideal for athletes who have an offer from a target school and are ready to make a commitment.
Alternatively, athletes are not required to sign during the early signing period. Perhaps an athlete is waiting on a better offer or would like to explore their options. However, a coach might see this as a player lacking commitment to their program, which could lead to them offering that spot to another athlete.
Regular Signing Period
During this period, athletes with verbal offers from coaches will make their athletic scholarship offer official by signing their NLI. Athletes may sign with a school during any day of the signing period.
Seniors in high school can graduate a semester early, and as a result, they can start college a semester early. This path gives student-athletes the opportunity to practice with their team before their college season. It also gives them the ability to get used to the college environment before having an extremely busy athletic schedule.
National Letter of Intent Release Rules
What happens if a student-athlete changes their mind about the college they want to attend after signing their NLI? In this case, a student-athlete must be asked to be released from the college they signed with through the online release process, which is located on the NLI website. If the release form is not granted, the athlete will unfortunately lose one year of eligibility.
When Does a National Letter of Intent Get Voided?
An NLI may be voided for the following reasons:
Not admitted to the college
Failing to meet eligibility requirements to receive athletic aid
Institution cuts sport
Next Section: Maximizing Athletic Scholarship Offers