There is a lot of publicity surrounding “National Signing Day.” However, there are really two different National Letter of Intent [NLI] Signing Periods that begin this Wednesday, February 6, 2013. The regular signing period for prospective college student-athletes [prospects] participating in the sport of football begins February 6 and lasts until April 1, 2013. The other signing period that begins February 6 lasts through August 1, 2013. This signing period is for prospects in the sports of field hockey, soccer, cross country, track and field, and men’s water polo.
By signing an NLI, a prospect agrees to attend that university for one academic year. The university agrees to provide an athletic scholarship to the prospect for a year for a specified amount that is listed on the grant-in-aid that accompanies the NLI. If after signing the NLI, the prospect is not admitted to the university, or is not certified by the NCAA Eligibility Center, the NLI will become invalid and the university will no longer be obligated to that prospect.
Once a prospect signs an NLI his or her recruitment process ends because no other university that participates in the NLI program is allowed to continue recruiting that prospect. This allows the student-athlete to return to life as a full-time high school or junior college student without the distractions of the recruiting process.
University not Coach
The NLI is a contract between a prospect and a university, not a particular coach. Therefore, if a coach leaves a university after the signing period, the prospect is still bound by the NLI contract
and must attend that university for one academic year.
Other Tips to ensure you have a valid NLI
- NLI must be signed by both the Director of Athletics and a representative from the Financial Aid Office.
- The NLI must be accompanied by a written offer of financial aid for the entire 2013-2014 academic year.
- A parent or legal guardian must sign the NLI and the accompanying grant-in–aid offer if the prospect is under the age of 21. A married prospect who is under 21 must still have a parent’s signature on the NLI.
- The NLI must not be signed prior to 7 am on the first day of the signing period.
- The NLI must be returned to the university within 14 days of the date of issue, not date of receipt.
- NLI may be returned to the university electronically. Also, return a copy by regular mail.
- Before returning the NLI to the university, make a copy and keep it for your records.
Basic Penalty for not Attending the University after signing the NLI
If after signing the NLI a prospect changes his mind and decides to attend a different university that also participate in the NLI program, that prospect will be required to sit an academic year in residence [two semesters or three quarters] at the second university. Additionally, the prospect will lose a season of athletic competition eligibility in ALL sports.
A prospect who attends the NLI university for less than a full academic year will serve the same basic penalty as a prospect who did not attend the NLI university at all.
The Athletic $cholarship Eligibility Coach: A How-To Guide for the Eligibility Certification Game has a chapter dedicated to the National Letter of Intent. This book will be released President’s Day Weekend, February 15-18, 2013, on the Eligibility Coach web site. Those who purchase the book during launch weekend will receive special FREE GIFTS. More details to come.