Signing day, also known as National Letter of Intent Day, is one of the most exciting moments for a student-athlete. Years of hard work lead up to this day and this is the first step in a high school athlete becoming a college student-athlete. With this exciting day, there are often many questions. Below we tried to answer the most popular questions.
What is National Signing Day?
National Signing Day is the first day on the calendar that high school athletes can sign their National Letter of Intent committing themselves to attend a specific university. Prior to this specific signing day, high school athletes and college coaches have been playing the recruiting game. If a National Letter of Intent is signed on or after signing day, then the student-athlete and the university are legally committed to each other for one year.
Signing Day is often a big deal as it is the culmination of years of hard work for the student-athletes as well as the family, school and coaches. This special day is often marked with a formal ceremony that looks like a professional press conference where the student-athlete formally signs the National Letter of Intent. As signing day is the first day that student-athletes can contractually commit to a university, this is an exciting day for universities, coaches, and fans as they can see how their recruiting efforts turned out.
What is the National Letter of Intent?
The National Letter of Intent (NLI) is a legal contract created by the Collegiate Commissioners Association to protect and bind the university and the student-athlete. The intention of the letter is to create a legal contract between the two parties so that neither can back out of their commitment to each other. With the singing of the National Letter of Intent the student-athlete commits to one year at the university while the university promises to provide an athletic scholarship to the student-athlete.
Also, with the signing of the NLI, other universities are not allowed to continue to recruit the student-athlete. The student-athlete is supposed to notify all schools that they were being recruited by that they signed an NLI with a school and the official recruiting process is concluded.
It should be noted that the by signing the NLI, the student-athlete is not guaranteed admission into the university. The student-athlete still needs to go through the admission process and meet admission requirements regardless of athletic achievement. Also, the athletic scholarship is a separate financial-aid document which should be provided and signed at the same time the NLI is signed.
When is National Signing Day?
The specific date of a student-athlete’s National Signing Day depends on the sport and the age of the athlete. Typically, the first singing days are mid-November and go through the holidays. As mentioned earlier, student-athletes do not have to sign the NLI on the designated signing day. Signing day only signifies the first day that the NLI can be signed. For any athlete being recruited, be sure to consult the NCAA as well as their recruiting coaches as they will know the exact days.
Why are multiple National Signing Days available?
Many student-athletes come from different scenarios. To cover these scenarios the NCAA often has an early signing period, a mid-year or transfer signing day, and then a regular period. Again, the recruiting coach will be able to help any student-athlete nail down the specific signing day that fits them. Each signing day period has approximately 30 days for the NLI to be available. After the signing period closes, student-athletes will not be able to sign the NLI until the next open signing period.
Typically, the early signing period is open to all student-athletes who are ready to make their decision. This is for the student-athletes who are 100% positive with their choice and are ready to be done with the recruiting process. If a student-athlete does not have a scholarship offer during the early period or if they want to hold out and wait to see if other offers come, they can choose to wait to sign until the regular period.
If the student-athlete took a non-traditional path either through junior college, another university, or perhaps is an international student coming to the US for the first time, they might fall into a separate and specific signing day. The reason for these different signing days is to help student-athletes and coaches navigate through the world of opportunities by focusing in on specific groups of athletes.
What if a student-athlete changes their mind after signing the NLI?
Again, the NLI is a legally binding contract between the student-athlete and the university. It is best for the student-athlete to be as positive as possible before signing the NLI. In fact, an NLI is not required for a student-athlete to attend a school on scholarship.
If circumstances change and the student-athlete wants released from the NLI contract, a process exists where the university and the student-athlete can mutually agree to be released from the contract. However, both sides can require enforcement of the contract. If a school chooses not to release a student-athlete from their NLI and the student-athlete chooses not to go to the university, then the athlete will be penalized one year of their athletic eligibility.
Other options and terms of release from the contract exist. Consultation with a lawyer would be recommended as the rules and regulations as they apply to NLIs, scholarship offers, and commitments are always changing.
How do I make Signing Day memorable?
The classic signing day has a professional media press conference feel. Investment in a custom media backdrop and table throw create the perfect scene. Team Fitz graphics offers the best-looking media backdrops with an easy-to-set-up backdrop frame and a table throw for virtually and size table.
In addition to the press conference set-up, you want to have your student-athlete in either formal dress or apparel from their university. Often times right before signing the NLI in front of the crowd the student-athlete will pull out a hat with the new school logo as a big reveal. Be sure to catch pictures of the student-athlete signing the NLI. If any proud parents, coaches, or teachers are there, take the time to get some great photos with everyone.
Signing day is a special day where past accomplishments have put the student-athlete in a position to try themselves at the next level. Lots of hard work and commitment from the athlete as well as the families and coaches have gone into this moment. If Team Fitz Graphics can help make the day even more memorable with a custom media backdrop and table throw, please call or email us for a free custom proof and quote. Congratulations to all student-athlete and their families this upcoming signing day!