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Everything you need to know about the National Letter of Intent

Signing a contract sounds official, right? You think you are getting pushed into adulting. However, as intimidating as it may appear, it is a provision that safeguards you as well as the college you commit to.

What is the National Letter of Intent (NLI)?

The NLI is a legally enforceable contract where the student-athlete commits to one academic year of attendance at the selected college/ university, and the university offers one academic year of athletic scholarship to the student. A voluntary program, the NLI includes 610 Division I and Division II schools. D3 Universities do not participate in the NLI program.

What does it mean to sign the NLI?

Signing the National Letter of Intent means that:
  • You have committed to attending the university for a year.
  • You have been offered a sports scholarship for that year
  • You are not allowed to speak with coaches at other universities, nor can any other schools continue to recruit you as the recruitment process has come to an end.
  • You cannot sign an NLI for two sports.
  • Having signed it does not mean that:
  • You have been admitted to the university.
  • You have received the amateur certificate from the NCAA. If you do not meet the NCAA eligibility, your signed NLI will be considered null and void.
  • So before you decide to sign, ask yourself if you will enjoy attending the school if you weren’t playing sports; how much of your tuition and expenses will be covered by the scholarship, and what your role will be on the team (starter or on the bench for a few years)?
    Insider tip: If you have been invited to walk on (no scholarship), you will not sign a National Letter of Intent.

    What makes you eligible to sign the NLI?

    If you are enrolling for the first time at a four-year NCAA D1 or D2 institution or transferring from a 2-year college to a 4-year University program, you are eligible to sign the NLI. If you are under the age of 21, a parent or legal guardian must also sign the NLI.

    When do you sign the NLI?

    November 8 is celebrated with a lot of pomp as National Signing Day. And, though many students choose to sign on that day, you have until the end of the signing period to accept athletic scholarships formally.

    Can you break away from the contract?

    To get relieved from the contract before its time, you will have to get a release form from the college. If not, as a consequence, you might have to forfeit a year of eligibility. The only situations in which you will be granted a release without a penalty if you:
  • request a release as the result of a head coaching change.
  • complete at least one academic semester or quarter at the institution of their choice.
  • join the Military or Church Mission
  • To understand the college recruitment process in a lot more detail, reach out to us for a completely free, personalized counseling session!
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