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National Signing Day

National Signing Day

Before you sign on National Signing Day, make sure you understand what you are formally agreeing to.

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After you have verbally committed to school, the last step to seal the deal with a program is signing a National Letter of Intent (NLI). This happens on National Signing Day. Remember that not every program requires a student-athlete to sign an NLI. There are 652 NCAA Division I and Division II colleges and universities participating in signing the NLI. 

Here we explain exactly what the NLI means, important dates, and what to consider before signing this binding agreement.

What is a National Letter of Intent?

A National Letter of Intent (NLI) is a binding agreement between prospective student-athletes and colleges or universities. This agreement solidifies a student-athlete's commitment to attend a specific college or university for a defined period, often covering one academic year. Additionally, the NLI typically outlines the terms of any associated athletic financial aid for the initial year of enrollment. While signing an NLI is common in many sports, particularly in NCAA Division I and II, some sports and divisions do not utilize the NLI.

Things to Consider Before Signing an NLI 

An NLI is a binding contract. This means once you have signed an NLI, you are fully committed to that school. Below we break down exactly what to consider before signing:

  • Binding Agreement: Once you sign an NLI you are committing to that college or university. Once signed, you are formally agreeing to attend for one academic year.
  • Financial Aid: An NLI is also associated with athletic aid. Remember: This does not include other forms of financial aid, such as academic scholarships, merit-based scholarships, loans, etc. Learn more about these other forms of financial aid here.
  • College Admissions: Signing an NLI does not mean you are automatically admitted to that school. You will still need to go through the admissions process just like any other student. 

You should only sign an NLI if you are 100% sure you want to attend that school. Before signing, make sure you discuss it with your guardians, coaches, or school counselors. 

What If I Choose Not to Attend After Signing an NLI?

To be released from your NLI agreement, you will lose one year of eligibility in all sports. You may also lose the athletic scholarship that was outlined in your NLI.

If you find yourself in this situation, we strongly recommend reaching out to your institution's college athletic department to understand exactly what was outlined in the NLI and what is expected from you. 

Can an NLI Be Voided? 

There are some situations where an NLI can be null and voided. Meaning, you do not need to adhere to what was outlined in your binding agreement. These situations can include:

  • Changing in the coaching staff 
  • Academic ineligibility or are not admitted into the institution 
  • The program or athletic department is cut 

Remember that the specific procedures and criteria for voiding an NLI can vary, so it's crucial to consult with the appropriate parties at both the college or university and the relevant athletic association.

What is National Signing Day? 

National Signing Day is a designated day when a high school student-athlete can sign their National Letter of Intent (NLI). This day occurs on different days for different sports and is divided into two periods: Early Signing Period and Regular Signing Period. Understand that not all sports have an early signing period, and the dates for these periods can vary depending on the sport and the NCAA division.

What is the Early Signing Period?

The Early Signing Period usually takes place in December. Student-athletes can sign their NLIs and commit to their chosen colleges before the regular signing period begins. Early signing day is particularly popular for football recruits, but it is also used by athletes in other sports.

What is the Regular Signing Period?

The regular signing period typically begins in February and extends into the spring. This is a time when student-athletes who did not sign during the early period can officially commit to their chosen colleges by signing an NLI.

What are the National Signing Dates? (Prospective Student-Athletes Signing 2023-24 and Enrolling 2024-25)

Below we break down the different sports and when you can sign during the Early Signing Period and Regular Signing Period.

Sport Initial Signing Date Final Signing Date
DI Basketball
(Early Period)
11/8/2023 11/15/2023
DI Basketball
(Regular Period)
4/17/2024 5/15/2024
DI Football
(Early Period)
12/20/2023 12/22/2023
DI and DII Football
(Midyear JC Transfer)
12/20/2023 1/15/2024
DI and DII Football
(Regular Period)
2/7/2024 Division I: 8/1/2024
Division II: 8/ 1/2024
All Other DI and DII Sports 11/8/2023 8/1/2024

Source: http://www.nationalletter.org/signingDates/index.html

Do I Have to Sign on the Initial Signing Day? 

The short answer is no! A student-athlete is not required to sign on the initial signing date. You have 7 days to sign an NLI from the date it is issued.


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