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Recruiting Season in Full Effect, National Letter of Intent Basics

As we quickly approach National Signing Day for the upcoming 2009/2010 season on February 4, let’s take a brief refresher look at the National Letter of Intent (NLI), the binding attendance and aid contract between an eligible prospective student-athlete and their college.

Signing Dates For Prospective Student-Athletes Enrolling in the 2009-2010 Academic Year
Football (Midyear JC Transfer), December 17, 2008 - January 15, 2009
Football (Regular Period), February 4, 2009 - April 1, 2009

...

Source: National-Letter.org

The NLI is a voluntary program with regard to both institutions and student-athletes. No prospective student-athlete or parent is required to sign the National Letter of Intent, and no institution is required to join the program.

By signing a National Letter of Intent, a prospective student-athlete agrees to attend the designated college or university for one academic year. Pursuant to the terms of the National Letter of Intent program, participating institutions agree to provide athletics financial aid for one academic year to the student-athlete, provided he/she is admitted to the institution and is eligible for financial aid under NCAA rules. An important provision of the National Letter of Intent program is a recruiting prohibition applied after a prospective student-athlete signs a Letter of Intent. This prohibition requires participating institutions to cease recruitment of a prospective student-athlete once a National Letter of Intent is signed with another institution.

When you sign the National Letter of Intent you agree to attend for one academic year the institution listed on the Letter in exchange for that institution awarding athletics financial aid for one academic year. After that, under NCAA rules you must be notified annually regarding whether your athletics aid has been renewed, you only sign an NLI when you first enroll in a four-year institution or if you are a four-two-four (4-2-4) transfer student.

The National Letter of Intent has many advantages to both prospective student-athletes and participating educational institutions:

Once a National Letter of Intent is signed, prospective student-athletes are no longer subject to further recruiting contacts and calls.

Student-athletes are assured of an athletics scholarship for one full academic year.

By emphasizing a commitment to an educational institution, not particular coaches or teams, the program focuses on a prospective student-athlete’s educational objectives.

You fulfill the National Letter of Intent in one of two ways: (1) By attending the institution with which you signed for at least one academic year as a full-time student; or, (2) By graduating from a junior college if you signed a National Letter of Intent while in high school or during your first year at the junior college.

Signing a National Letter of Intent does not guarantee you playing time or a spot on the team. Rather, by signing a National Letter of Intent, the institution with which you signed agrees to provide you athletics financial aid for the academic year.

You are not required to sign a National Letter of Intent but many student-athletes sign a National Letter of Intent because they want to create certainty in the recruiting process. Specifically, by signing a National Letter of Intent, you agree to attend the institution for one year in exchange for the institution’s promise, in writing, to provide you athletics financial aid for the entire academic year. Simply, by signing a National Letter of Intent you are given an award including athletics aid for the upcoming academic year provided you are admitted to the institution and you are eligible for athletics aid under NCAA rules. Furthermore, by signing a National Letter of Intent you effectively end the recruiting process. Once you sign a National Letter of Intent, a recruiting ban goes into effect and you may no longer be recruited by any other National Letter of Intent school.

Once you sign a National Letter of Intent, all other participating conferences and institutions are obligated to cease recruiting you. Accordingly, you have an obligation to notify any recruiter from a National Letter of Intent institution of the fact you have signed a National Letter of Intent.

The NCAA Eligibility Center manages the daily operations of the NLI program while the Collegiate Commissioners Association (CCA) provides governance oversight of the program. Started in 1964 with seven conferences and eight independent institutions, the program now includes 610 Division I and II participating institutions. All Division I institutions, with the exception of the Service Academies and schools in the Ivy League, are members of the program, and most fully-active Division II institutions participate in the program. No Division III institutions, NAIA schools, preparatory schools, junior colleges, or community colleges participate in the National Letter of Intent program.

The National Letter of Intent program does not recognize verbal commitments. It is not uncommon for a student to verbally commit to one institution and subsequently sign a National Letter of Intent with another institution. And, on some occasions, a university may accept your verbal commitment and later offer the National Letter of Intent to another prospective student-athlete.