What to know about signing a National Letter of Intent

National signing day begins soon for various college sports, and recruits will begin signing their National Letter of Intents. The National Letter of Intent (NLI) is a binding agreement between the prospective recruit and college institution. Prospective recruits are not required to sign National Letter of Intents. However, when a recruit signs a NLI, it provides them with a sense of academic, athletic, and financial security.

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 athletic scholarship for a minimum of 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.


National Letter of Intent FAQs.

Am I required to sign a National Letter of Intent?

No. You are not required but many student-athletes sign because it gives them certainty in the recruiting process. They are legally committed to a university for one academic year, and they no longer have to worry about getting a scholarship.

Do I need to sign a new National Letter of Intent every year?

No. However under NCAA rules you must be notified annually regarding whether your athletics aid has been renewed.

When can I sign a National Letter of Intent?

You can sign your National Letter of Intent during the designated signing period only. If you sign outside the NLI signing period, the NLI shall be considered invalid.

Do I need a parent or legal guardian to sign my National Letter of Intent with me?

Yes. If you are under the age of 21 then you must have a legal guardian or parent sign the NLI in order for it to be valid. If your parent or legal guardian is not available (e.g. incarcerated, death) you can have another individual sign your NLI. That person must be preapproved by the NLI Office before you and they sign the NLI.

If the coach that recruited me leaves that university is the National Letter of Intent still binding?

Yes. When you sign an NLI, you sign with an institution and not with a coach or team.

What is the penalty for wanting to back out of my National Letter of Intent agreement?

If you sign an NLI with an institution and want a release to go somewhere else you must face a penalty if the initial institution doesn’t grant you a complete release. The NLI basic penalty is that you lose one year of competition in all sports and must serve one year in residence at your next NLI institution.

Does a school have to grant me a complete release if I request it?

No. Granting a complete release is voluntary. If an institution denies your request for a complete release, you may petition the NLI Policy and Review Committee for Division 1 and NLI Review Committee for Division 2 for such a release.

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