- NLI specifies a student will attend a college for one year with a one-year athletic scholarship.
- NCAA D-I and D-II, NAIA, and NJCAA have NLI signing programs.
- Signing windows open in November and last until August .
- NLI is for seniors in high school and is a binding agreement .
- Signing an NLI is very common at top DI programs.
Many of you have heard about the famous ‘National Letter of Intent’ (NLI) and want to know more. Here at Junior Golf Hub we’ve got you covered!
What you need to know (WYNK) about the NLI:
What is the National Letter of Intent?
The National Letter of Intent (NLI) is simply an agreement that specifies a prospective student athlete will attend a given college for one year and the college has agreed to provide an athletic scholarship for one academic year.
Do all colleges offer the National Letter of Intent?
The National Letter of Intent is a contract specifically designed for National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I and Division II schools (DIII schools do not offer athletic scholarships). Most D-I and D-II programs offer the National Letter of Intent with some exceptions most notably the Ivy League schools. National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) schools or Junior Colleges also have NLI programs, but follow separate practices and procedures as they are unaffiliated with the NCAA.
When do I sign a National Letter of Intent?
The NLI program begins in November for prospective student-athletes signing in 2019-20 and enrolling in the 2020-21 school year:
- NCAA Division I, II: Starts November 13th, 2019 – August 1, 2020.
- NCAA Division III: No athletic awards and no recruiting calendar
- NAIA: Anytime, no formal NLI program, non-binding.
- National Junior College Athletics Association (NJCAA): November 1, 2019 – August 1, 2020
A final thing to keep in mind is that you will have a deadline from the issuance date for you and your parents or guardian to sign the NLI so make sure to keep track of time!
Frequently Asked Questions:
Junior Golf Hub member, Max Orwicz, with Roger Knick,
Founder of The Golf Performance Center in November 2019.
I heard that the National Letter of Intent is binding, is that true?
Yes, the NLI is a binding agreement between the prospective student athlete and the college. If you sign an NLI with a college and subsequently attend a different school there is a penalty which most commonly specifies that you are unable to play competitive sports at your final college choice for one year and lose one season of intercollegiate sports. However, this provision can be waived if you request and are granted a waiver from the school you originally signed the NLI with. Also keep in mind that this is a commitment to the academic university, not the golf coach. If something happens to the coach and they retire, are fired, or change schools prior to you coming in, the NLI may not be transferred or canceled. Lastly, if you do not get accepted to the university the NLI will not be honored.
Are National Letters of Intent only for seniors in high school? Or does it apply to juniors or earlier grades?
The National Letter of Intent is intended for students starting college in the subsequent fall post signing and hence is applicable to high school seniors. Students in their junior year or earlier can, however, make a verbal commitment to a program which is non-binding.
Do I have to sign a National Letter of Intent?
No. The National Letter of Intent is a voluntary agreement not a mandated one.
What happens if I don’t sign a Letter of Intent?
Many prospective student athletes don’t sign the letter of intent for a variety of reasons, including not being offered a scholarship or missing the signing window. Some programs afford offer letters outside of the National of Intent, others will just accept verbal commitments and very often it’s a matter of team or coach preference. Check with your coach on the recommended path forward if you are not signing the NLI.
What’s the difference between a National Letter of Intent and a verbal commitment?
Verbal commitments are non-binding and usually occur in the player’s junior year of high school during an unofficial visit. During the unofficial visit, a coach may offer the player a spot on his or her roster and scholarship money. If the player agrees to the coach’s terms they have made a “verbal commitment.” Through a verbal commitment, the coach and player are expected to honor the agreed upon terms and the player will likely sign an Early National Letter of Intent. Nothing is official until the NLI has been signed but it is very rare that a coach fails to honor a verbal commitment. We recommend being careful with verbal commitments. If a player commits early in his or her junior year, that leaves two years before the start of college golf. And a lot can change in two years!
Do you recommend that I sign a National Letter of Intent?
This is largely a matter of personal preference but signing a National Letter of Intent is generally considered standard procedure at most NCAA DI and DII schools. The main draw is that the NLI provides valuable certainty for both the athlete and college. Some critics have noted that the agreement tends to be rather one sided in favor of the college as it binds the athlete to a college but contains various escape clauses for the college who can ultimately deny your admission or withdraw your scholarship.
What if I don’t receive a letter early on in the Signing Period?
Don’t worry. It is rare that a coach signs all their players early in the signing window and so they will likely still need to sign players during the remainder of the NLI signing period. Coaches understand that players can still improve during their senior year and that they deserve consideration. Consider the following tips if you are a Senior and don’t receive an offer or letter right away:
- After the early window, make note of all players that committed to the school you are interested in and how many spots remain.
- Maintain a competitive schedule through the spring to keep developing your playing resume.
- Continue to take official and unofficial visits as often as possible. This is a good way to show coaches how much you want to play for their team.
- Keep coaches updated with tournament results, upcoming tournament schedules, grades and standardized test scores. Let coaches know how hard you are working and how important it is to get a spot on their team.
- Ask your coach about their current recruiting situation and where you stand in that equation. It’s much better to get direct answers, even if some coaches say no. You are better off focusing your time and energy on the schools you have a chance with.
Remember: The first three sentences of any note or message you send to a coach are the most important. Be bold and direct to stand out and keep them reading.
- It’s important to understand the recruiting calendars for the coaches at your target programs. There will be great opportunities to contact programs at certain points throughout the year and more difficult times to engage at other times.
Junior Golf Hub member Tristan Nelko and his family
on Signing Day in November of 2018
I see people signing their National Letter of Intent with the coach in the background. Seems like a great photo op! How does that work?
Some college coaches offer the ability to come on campus to sign the National Letter of Intent and use the signing as a great photo op. Check with your coach on whether they offer this as an option and take advantage of it if you can! Please note that coaches are not allowed to attend signings off-campus or deliver NLI’s off campus.
Is the NLI just a sheet of paper?
The NLI is a binding contract, much more than a sheet of paper for you to sign. The institution recruiting you will send you the NLI via express mail, courier service, regular mail, email or fax. The materials you receive will include the details of an offer of athletics financial aid for the entire academic year.
How can I let coaches know I have signed an NLI on my Hub profile?
If you sign an NLI with a school make sure you show it off on your Junior Golf Hub Profile! Schools will cease recruiting you, and this will alert the JGH staff of your success in getting recruited! Make sure to change your status under ‘Athlete Information’ at the bottom of the page: under the section titled ‘College Status’ and mark ‘Signed’ and include the name of the College you signed to under ‘College Name’!
I want to learn more, where can I find more information?
Feel free to visit http://www.nationalletter.org/index.html for more information
Enjoy Your Journey!