Decoding the National Letter of Intent
Here at Athletes USA our favorite time of year is just around the corner, the time of year when student athletes officially link their name to the school of their dreams and end the hustle and bustle of the recruiting process. On signing day athletes across the country and internationally gleefully sign their National Letter of Intent’s (NLI) sporting their new teams t-shirts and baseball caps with pride. If you haven’t been sent your very own NLI connect with Athletes USA today to get started on finding a school of your own www.athletes-usa.com/apply
For those of you who are unsure what an NLI is or its purpose in the realm of recruiting here’s the breakdown.
What is an NLI?
A binding document between an athlete and the university or college they have chosen to sign with and compete for over the duration of one academic year in exchange for an athletic scholarship.
When does an athlete sign an NLI?
An NLI is signed during the athletes chosen signing period. The NLI must be signed within fourteen days of their sports designated signing period, otherwise it is considered null and invalid. The NLI can be faxed, emailed, or snail mailed back to the university upon completion.
How does an athlete fulfill their NLI?
To fulfill an NLI the athlete must complete one academic year (two semesters or three quarters depending on the universities term system) at the university they have signed with.
Does an NLI guarantee a spot on the team?
No, an NLI only guarantees the athlete is awarded their athletic scholarship but does not ensure the athlete plays the season or has a spot on the roster.
Does an athlete have to sign an NLI?
No, but many athletes choose to do so in order to ensure they receive the athletic award they committed to for that academic year.
Do you re-sign an NLI every year?
No, typically an athlete is notified by their university whether or not their aid will be continued, reduced, or increased on a year to year basis.
Do walk on athletes have to sign NLI?
No, only athletes receiving athletic scholarships sign an NLI.
What’s the difference between an NLI and a Verbal agreement?
Before the NLI, many athletes typically make an verbal agreement with the university they choose to play for. Unlike an NLI, this agreement is between athlete and coach is non-binding, meaning it does not guarantee a spot on the team, a future NLI, or athletic aid of any kind.
Can an athlete verbally commit with one team and sign an NLI with a different school?
Yes , since the verbal commitment is non-binding whereas the NLI is binding. However, we do not advise verbally committing to multiple coaches because it does not make a good impression. When coaches give you a verbal offer they expect the same respect and commitment from you.
Does an athlete have to be cleared as eligible by the NCAA Clearing house to sign?
No, most athletes choose to complete their NLI during the early signing periods before they have been cleared as qualifiers by the NCAA Clearinghouse. If an athlete is deemed as a qualifier by the Clearinghouse then they are fully eligible to compete for their new school and the NLI is considered valid. If the athlete is classified as a non-qualifier then the NLI is null and void as they are ineligible to compete.
Are there any penalties for deciding to sing with a different school after completing an NLI?
Yes, if an athlete has already signed an NLI with one university and decides to sign with a different school the penalty is typically a one year loss of eligibility and the completion of one year of residence (two semesters or three quarters) at the school they initially signed with. In some cases this basic penalty may be eliminated through a NLI complete release.
What is an NLI complete release?
A complete release may granted to athletes by the school they initially signed with. If an athlete is not granted a complete release they may appeal their case to the NLI Steering Committee which grants such releases under extenuating circumstances. Extenuating circumstances are determined by the Steering Committee on a case to case basis. Examples of extenuating circumstances may include but are not limited to financial hardship of the athlete’s family, illness or injury of the athlete, or the death of a family member.
Other things to keep in mind once you get an NLI:
Carefully look over the NLI to check for the correct award amount
Keep a hard copy of the NLI for your own records
For more in depth information regarding the NLI contact us today at Athletes USA.