As a junior golfer, you’ve probably heard about the famous ‘National Letter of Intent’ (NLI), but you may not know exactly what it means. Here at Junior Golf Hub, we’ve got you covered! We have all the details on what you need to know about the famous NLI.
What is the National Letter of Intent?
At its heart, 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 program specifically designed for 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. NAIA schools or Junior Colleges follow separate practices and procedures as they are unaffiliated with the NCAA.
When do I sign a National Letter of Intent?
There are two signing windows in any given year, one in the late fall and another starting in the spring. For example, here are the signing dates for this year’s high school seniors looking to play DI or DII Golf:
- Initial Signing Date – Nov. 8, 2023
- Final Signing Date – Aug. 1, 2024
A final thing to keep in mind is that you have seven days from the issuance date for you and your parents or guardian to sign the NLI so make sure to keep track of time!
Now that you know the basics about the NLI, we can go more in depth with answers to some of the most frequently asked questions by juniors and their families.
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 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? What happens if I don’t sign a Letter of Intent?
No. The National Letter of Intent is a voluntary agreement not a mandated one. 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. If this is you, don’t worry. 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. That being said, we recommend be 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!
What if I miss the Early Signing Period?
Don’t worry. It is rare that a coach signs all their players by the early signing window and so they will likely still need to sign players during the NLI regular signing period. Coaches understand that players can still improve during their senior year and that they deserve consideration. Consider the following tips if you miss the Early Signing window:
- After the early window, note 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.
How can I let people know I have signed an NLI on my Hub profile?
If you sign a 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 this 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?
Please visit www.nationalletter.org for more information.
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