What Does A National Letter Of Intent Mean?
Signing the National Letter of Intent is what most student-athletes aim for and focus on throughout the recruiting process. Most players know that this document officially marks the end of recruiting. But there is some confusion around what exactly the National Letter of Intent means.
The National Letter of Intent is a contract that student-athletes sign when they officially commit to an NCAA college in the US and are accepting a scholarship offer. Student-athletes usually sign the National Letter of Intent on Signing Day. The specific date for Signing Day varies depending on the sport you’re playing.
The National Letter of Intent can only be signed by potential student-athletes who are entering a four-year institution for the first time in the academic year after they sign the National Letter of Intent. Signing this marks the end of the recruiting process for student-athletes and the beginning of the transition to college.
Is The National Letter Of Intent A Scholarship?
The National Letter of Intent was created to protect coaches and student-athletes from backing out of a scholarship agreement. It was created by the Collegiate Commissioners Association and is not directly affiliated with the NCAA. There are a few different aspects of the National Letter of Intent that are important to understand before signing.
Athletic Scholarship Agreement: The National Letter of Intent is essentially an athletic scholarship agreement. It is a legally binding document signed by both the student-athlete and their parent or guardian. Your signature signifies your intent to play for a university for at least one academic year. In contrast, the university’s promise is to provide you with an athletic scholarship for one year. The National Letter of Intent is different from a financial aid package, and you will need to sign both documents to receive financial aid.
Recruiting: After signing the National Letter of Intent, the recruiting process is officially over. No other schools can continue to recruit you. Signing this document doesn’t mean that you’ve been admitted to the university yet. Some schools may have additional requirements for student-athletes to meet before being enrolled.
Fulfillment: If a student-athlete does not fulfill the National Letter of Intent agreement, or enrolls in a different college from the one originally agreed upon, the student-athlete can’t compete in athletics for a year. Fulfilling the National Letter of Intent is simple - attend the university with which you signed for at least one academic year as a full-time student.
Athletics: Signing a National Letter of Intent does not technically guarantee youplaying time or have a spot on the team. However, it does ensure that the university will provide athletics financial aid for the academic year. Even if you quit the team, you must attend the institution for an academic year to fulfill the agreement.
Release Rules: If a student-athlete changes their mind about which school they want to go to after signing a National Letter of Intent, they must request a release form or lose one year of eligibility.
Only Need To Sign Once: You don’t need to sign a National Letter of Intent every academic year during college. The school must inform student-athletes if their scholarship is being renewed or not after their first year playing.
Because the National Letter of Intent is legally binding, it’s essential to know what you’re signing. This document is meant to clarify the transition from high school to college and officially end the recruiting process. Direct any questions you may have to your college coach and school representatives—they are there to help.
When Do Student-Athletes Sign The National Letter Of Intent?
Generally, student-athletes sign the National Letter of Intent on the Signing Day specific to their sport. This date will fall somewhere between the period of getting an offer from a college coach to the final signing date.
Different For Sport and Division: Signing Day varies for different sports and divisions, but will always be during the student-athlete’s senior year. For example, football and basketball student-athletes will sign their letters of intent much earlier in their senior year than other sports. What people typically call “Signing Day” falls on the first day of the signing period or the initial signing date.
It’s Okay To Miss Signing Day: It isn’t required to sign the National Letter of Intent on the first day of your signing period, but many student-athletes do, which brings an official end to the recruiting process. However, you only have seven days from the date the National Letter of Intent is issued to sign and still have it declared valid.
Can’t Sign Early: If you receive a National Letter of Intent before the signing period for your sport begins, you must wait until 7 a.m. on the first day of the signing period to sign the document. Your parent or legal guardian must also sign the National Letter of Intent, and college coaches cannot be present for the signing.
Signing the National Letter of Intent is an exciting moment that signifies your commitment to play for a college for at least one year. Enjoy the results of your hard work and know that you have a lot to look forward to after Signing Day!
Do You Sign A National Letter Of Intent For Division III?
Division III athletics are organized a bit differently from higher division levels. Division III athletics aren’t regulated by the NCAA and go by their own recruiting rules. These schools also don’t offer athletic scholarships for student-athletes.
**Celebratory Signing Form:**For this reason, Division III student-athletes do not sign a National Letter of Intent when they commit to a school. There is a celebratory signing form that Division III student-athletes can sign, but it is non-binding. Student-athletes can sign this form on Signing Day after they’ve been accepted to a college to be part of the signing celebrations. Universities are not allowed to publicize a Division III athlete’s commitment to the school until after the student has submitted a financial deposit.
The National Letter of Intent program is a voluntary program that universities and student-athletes choose to participate in. Not every school in the US engages in the NLI program, including all Division III colleges. Division III athletes have a different academic and athletic experience than student-athletes in higher division levels, including their Signing Day experience.
Things To Keep In Mind
Walk-On Players: Walk-on players are student-athletes who have been recruited by a coach at the university, but aren’t offered financial assistance to play on the team. A preferred walk-on player doesn’t technically need to sign anything on Signing Day, as they aren’t receiving an athletic scholarship. But walk-ons are a vital part of a successful team, so be sure to ask your coach if there’s something you can sign.
Coaches: If a coach leaves the institution that you signed with, your National Letter of Intent is still valid. Your offer is tied to the university and not your coach, so you’ll have to attend that school for a year.
Offer Letter: The National Letter of Intent is the final step in the recruiting process, and there are a few significant events that would happen before you receive a National Letter of Intent to sign. A coach will offer a student-athlete a verbal offer before the National Letter of Intent enters the picture. Once an athlete commits to a program they will then receive their National Letter of Intent.