New NLI Rule Eliminates Early Signing Period for Most Sports

New rules regarding National Letters of Intent (NLIs) will eliminate the “early” signing period, unifying it with the previous “regular” signing period, for all sports other than football and basketball.

NLIs are one-year scholarship agreements that make up the framework of the NCAA scholarship system. An NLI is a binding agreement between a prospective student-athlete (PSA) and a school in which the PSA agrees to attend the school and the school agrees to provide athletic financial aid – in college recruiting, the NLI is essentially the finish line, as athletes can no longer ‘de-commit’ without losing a year of eligibility. A verbal commitment is a non-binding agreement that a recruit can change (and schools can rescind roster spots or scholarship offers) but signing an NLI makes the scholarship offer (and intent to attend school and compete for that school in the NCAA) official and binding.

Previously, the bulk of the NCAA’s sports had split signing periods during which schools and PSAs could sign National Letters of Intent for the upcoming school year. For example, for athletes enrolling for the 2018-2019 school year, an early signing period from November 8, 2017 to November 15, 2017 offered the first chance to lock down scholarship offers. Prospects who didn’t sign within that period had to wait for the regular period, from April 11, 2018 to August 1, 2018.

But for athletes in the high school class of 2019, the two periods have been joined with no “dead period” in the middle. Rising high school seniors can sign NLIs from November 14, 2018 to August 1, 2019 in most Division I and II sports. Basketball and football in both Divisions I and II still have split signing periods.

NLI Signing Dates for Prospective Student-Athletes Signing 2018-19 and Enrolling 2019-20

Sport (s) Initial Signing Date Final Signing Date
Division I Basketball (Early Period) November 14, 2018 November 21, 2018
Division I Basketball (Regular Period) April 17, 2019 May 15, 2019
Division I Football (Early Period) December 19, 2018 December 21, 2018
Division I and II Football (Midyear JC Transfer) December 19, 2018 January 15, 2019
Division I and II Football (Regular Period) February 6, 2019 Division I: April 1, 2019
Division II: August 1, 2019
All Other Division I and II Sports November 14, 2018 August 1, 2019

 


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