The National Letter of Intent [NLI] is the document that is discussed on the day known as “Signing Day.” This contract is a binding agreement between a prospective student-athlete and an NLI member institution. By signing the NLI, the prospect agrees to attend the university for one academic
year. In turn, the university agrees to provide athletics financial aid for one academic year.
If a prospect signs an NLI and does not fulfill his part of the contract, the basic penalty is to serve one year of residence at the next NLI member institution attended, before being able to compete, and to lose one season of competition in ALL SPORTS.
This post will discuss the Top 5 Signing Day Myths associated with the NLI, and tell you the truth behind each of these Myths.
Signing Day Myth #5: Football players sign scholarship offers the first Wednesday in February.
Truth: There is a signing period for football that begins the first Wednesday of February and lasts through April 1, 2014. Field Hockey, Soccer, Track and Field/Cross Country, and Men’s Water Polo Signing Period lasts from February 5 through August 1, 2104. The signing period for all other sports is from April 16 through August 1, 2104. High School and junior college students may sign on any day during the signing period as long as:
- Do not sign before the first day of the signing period. Even though you may receive the NLI document early, do not sign it before February 5, 2014, or it will not be valid.
- Do not sign before 7:00 am.
- Do not sign if the NLI if it is not accompanied by a grant-in-aid that is signed by a financial aid official at the University that issues the NLI. You must have both the NLI and the grant-in-aid in order for the scholarship offer to be valid.
- One parent must also sign the document if the student is under the age of 21.
- The NLI is returned to the school within seven  days of issuance.
Signing Day Myth #4: If I sign an NLI and the head coach leaves then I will be released from the NLI and may compete at another school.
Truth: The NLI is a contract between a student and a university, not a coach. If the coach leaves, the student is still obligated to attend the university for one full academic year, two semesters or
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three quarters. While you may request a release from a university, the university is under no obligation to actually release you. Even if you don’t enroll at the university, the NLI remains binding.
Release Requests: You must initiate the release request by submitting the NLI Release Request online. Visit www.national-letter.org for more information.
Signing Day Myth #3: All football scholarships are full scholarships.
Truth: For Football Bowl Subdivision [FBS] universities the majority of the scholarships will be full scholarships. However, both Football Championship Subdivision [FCS] universities, and Division II schools, mostly offer partial scholarships. Check the grant-in-aid that accompanies the NLI to see exactly how much your scholarship will be worth, and so you will fully understand the financial obligation for your family.
Signing Day Myth #2: If I sign an NLI then I’m automatically admitted to the university because they want me.
Truth: Nothing could be further from the truth. You must apply for admissions, pay the application fee, and be admitted to the university just as any other student who wants to attend that college or university. Generally coaches will not sign a student they don’t believe will both be admitted to the university and certified by the NCAA. However, sometimes a coach will sign a player who is close to meeting academics standards, but needs that last semester of high school or junior college in order to be admissible. Just because you sign the NLI does not mean that you have completed the scholarship process. You must finish your last semester of school strong academically to avoid any eligibility issues.
Signing Day Myth #1: If I sign an NLI, I will automatically receive an athletic scholarship.
Truth: Not exactly. The NLI contract states that you must be admitted to the university and certified by the NCAA in order to receive the scholarship. If you are not admitted, or if you are determined to be a non-qualifier by the NCAA, your NLI will be declared null and void, and you will not receive the scholarship outlined in the NLI.