National Letter of Intent

The National Letter of Intent (NLI) program was recently taken over by the NCAA and is now housed within the NCAA Eligibility Center.

Sport Initial Signing Date Final Signing Date
Basketball (Early) November 12, 2008 November 19, 2008
Baseball, Crew, Golf,
Gymnastics, Ice Hockey
Softball, Swimming & Diving,
Tennis, Volleyball, Water
Polo and Wrestling (Early)
November 12, 2008 November 19, 2008
Cross Country, Field Hockey,
Soccer and Track
February 4, 2009 August 1, 2009
Basketball (Late) April 15, 2009 May 20, 2009
Baseball, Crew, Golf,
Gymnastics, Ice Hockey,
Softball, Swimming & Diving,
Tennis, Volleyball, Water
Polo and Wrestling (Late)
April 8, 2009 August 1, 2009

Prospects Who May Sign National Letters of Intent:

  1. Prospects (high school and two-year college) who will be attending four-year institutions in the fall for the first time as full-time students..
  2. 4-2-4 transfers who will be entering a second four-year institution in the fall after graduating from the two-year college.
  3. In the sport of football only, midyear junior college transfers who will meet NCAA junior college transfer requirements.

Note: Prospective student-athletes must be registered with the NCAA Eligibility Center in order to be issued a National Letter of Intent.

Parent or Guardian Must Sign NLI:

A parent or legal guardian is REQUIRED to sign the NLI unless the involved prospective student-athlete is 21 years of age. If the student-athlete does not have a living parent or legal guardian, the NLI may be signed by another individual who is acting as a guardian only by pre-approval of the NLI Policy and Review Committee. Such requests can take several weeks to process, so it is very important to review this topic in advance with each prospect who will be signing an NLI.

Institutional Agreement:

The National Letter of Intent is an agreement with the institution and not for a particular sport or coach. For example, if the coach leaves the institution, the prospect remains bound by the provisions of the Letter, or if a Letter is signed with institution "A" to play football, the prospect may not sign a second letter with institution "B" to play basketball.

Financial Aid Offer Required:

The National Letter of Intent must be accompanied by a financial aid agreement from the institution.

Time Deadlines:

The prospect and parent or legal guardian must sign the NLI on or before the final day of the early signing period and the institution must file the NLI with its conference within 21 days of the final signature.

The NLI may be mailed to a prospect prior to the initial signing date. When the NLI is issued prior to the initial signing date, the "date of issuance" shall be considered to be the initial signing date and not the date that the NLI was signed or mailed by the institution.

Mid-Year Enrollees:

Prospects who sign an NLI in the early signing period and subsequently choose to enroll at the signing institution at mid-year will not be eligibility for athletics aid during their first term of enrollment.

Dead Period Restrictions:

The National Letter of Intent initial signing date is surrounded by a dead period that starts Monday at 12:01a.m. prior to the initial date of signing and ends Thursday at midnight after the initial date of signing. No in-person on- or off-campus contacts are permitted during a dead period. But, in sports other than football, you may make an unlimited number of calls to the prospect on the initial date for signing the NLI and the two days following the initial date of signing.

Issuance and Retrieval of National Letter of Intent:

Three copies of the NLI will be delivered to the prospect with the Athletic Director's signature on all three copies. One copy is to be kept by the prospect, one copy is kept for our records and one copy is sent to the conference office.

Various methods may be used for issuance and retrieval of the NLI.

  1. The NLI may be express mailed (e.g., FedEx, UPS, etc.) to the prospect and the institution may pay for the express mail to return the NLI.
  2. The NLI may be expressed mailed to the prospect and he/she may fax the signature pages to us for press release purposes. But the prospect would still need to return two hard copies of the NLI to us.
  3. The NLI may NOT be hand delivered off-campus by an institutional staff member.
  4. The NLI may be faxed to the prospect and the prospect can either fax it back or mail it back to us.

One-Year Attendance Requirement:

A prospect who has signed the NLI must attend the institution for at least one academic year (two full semesters or three full quarters).

Basic Penalty:

A student-athlete who signs an NLI with an institution and does not complete full academic year at that institution loses a season of competition in all sports and will be required to serve a year in residence with no competition when he or she enrolls at a second institution, if that second institution subscribes to the NLI program. The year in residence with no competition is required even if the student-athlete qualifies for an exception to the residency requirement as specified in NCAA Article 15.

Institutional Release from the NLI Without Penalty:

Institutions are now empowered to grant a full and complete release from the NLI at anytime. To do so, an official Release Request Form must be initiated by the prospect and submitted to both the NLI office and the signing institution. From this point, the signing institution has 15 days to complete their portion of the form and provide copies to both the prospect and the NLI Office. If the institution fails to act within the 15 day deadline, the prospect shall be automatically granted a complete release.

In cases in which an institution declines the opportunity to give a full release from the NLI, the signee may appeal to the NLI Policy and Review Committee for relief from the basic NLI penalties. An appeal requires that a completed NLI Appeal form and a completed Release Request Form be submitted to the NLI Policy and Review Committee. The appeal process generally takes 4-6 weeks.

Note that NCAA permission to contact rules replace the NLI recruiting ban once a signed prospect enrolls full-time at the institution he or she signed with. However, it is still necessary for that student-athlete to go through the NLI release process if he or she wishes to transfer before attending the college for two semesters. Similarly, the transfer year in residence requirement is still applicable even after a complete NLI release is granted.

Early Signing Period Penalties (Football):

A prospective student-athlete who signs a National Letter of Intent during the early signing period will be ineligible for practice and competition in football for a one year period and shall forfeit one season of football eligibility. If a student-athlete whose primary sport is not football is considering also playing football in college, he should wait until the regular signing period to sign the NLI.

Letter is Void:

The provisions of the National Letter of Intent will not be applicable if any of the following occur:

  1. The prospect is a non-qualifier per NCAA Bylaw 14.3.
  2. The signing institution either notifies the prospect in writing that he or she has been denied admission or if the signing institution fails to provide written notice that the prospect has been admitted prior to the first day of fall classes (assuming the prospect has a completed admissions application on file).
  3. The prospect does not meet the requirements for financial aid to athletes for the fall semester.
  4. A junior college transfer who signed during the regular signing period does not meet the provisions of the NCAA junior college transfer rule as of the fall semester.
  5. A junior college transfer who signed during the signing period for midyear JC football transfers does not meet the provisions of the NCAA junior college transfer rules as of the winter or spring term.
  6. The prospect graduates from junior college after having signed a NLI while in high school or during the first year in junior college.
  7. The prospect does not attend any institution for a period of one year (or attends an institution, including a junior college, not subscribing to the NLI for the next academic year) and requests athletic financial aid for a subsequent fall term from the institution with which the prospect signed, and the institution does not approve the request. In this situation, the prospect must file with the appropriate conference office a statement from the Director of Athletics at the institution listed on the NLI that such financial aid will not be available to him/her for the requested fall term.
  8. The prospect serves for at least 12 months on active duty with the U.S. armed forces or on a church mission.
  9. The prospect's sport is discontinued by the institution with which he / she signed.
  10. The institution (or representative of its athletics interests) violates NCAA or conference rules while recruiting a prospect and he/she requires eligibility reinstatement through the NCAA in order to be eligible for competition.
  11. If the prospect is eligible for admission, but the institution that issued the NLI defers admission to a subsequent term. If the prospect chooses to defer admission to a subsequent term, the agreement remains binding.

Student-Athletes Are Bound by a Previously Signed National Letter of Intent:

A prospective student-athlete is bound by the conditions of the National Letter of Intent for a four year period unless the NLI is rendered null and void for one of the reasons listed above or the prospective student-athlete attends the institution listed on the NLI for a period of at least one academic year.

Recruiting Ban After Signing:

Once a prospect signs a valid NLI, other institutions may not call, write or have contact with the prospect or the prospect's parents. Failure to adhere to this rule could result in revocation of the offending institution's enrollment in the NLI program.