NATIONAL LETTER OF INTENT (NLI)
AND NATIONAL SIGNING DAY
For many sports, especially in Division I, National Signing Day has become a celebrated event. Technically, student-athletes do not need to sign their National Letters of Intent on the first day of the Signing Period, but many do.
SIGNING PERIOD RULES FOR 2023-24 SCHOOL YEAR
Starting in the 2019-20 school year, significant updates
SIGNING: to the Signing Period rules have sped up the timeline for seniors looking to sign with a school. In the past, there was an early Signing Period (usually in November) followed by a break over the holidays (dead period) before signing NLIs resumed in the spring during the regular Signing Period.
All athletes outside of D1 football and men’s and women’s D1 basketball players can begin signing scholarships on November 8, 2023 and continue to sign anytime through August 1, 2024.
While much of the recruiting process happens long before November of your senior year, the fact that athletes will be ending their recruiting by signing NLIs earlier means recruiting in the lower divisions will likely speed up as well.
In the past, NCAA D2, D3 and NAIA schools would wait for D1 programs to complete their recruiting classes before ramping up their signings. Now that D1 schools will be completing their signings earlier, expect all other division levels to be busy over the holidays instead of mid to late spring.
When is National Signing Day?
National Signing Day is November 8, 2023 for all D1 and D2 sports outside of football or basketball, and the signing period continues through August 1, 2024.
Below are updated signing dates for each sport for student-athletes signing in 2023-2024 for 2024-2025 enrollment:
Sport Initial Signing Date Final Signing Date
D1 Basketball (early period)November 8, 2023November 15, 2023
D1 Basketball (regular period)April 17, 2024May 15, 2024
D1 Football (early period)December 20, 2023December 22, 2023
D1 and D2 Football (mid-year JC transfer)December 20, 2023January 15, 2024
D1 and D2 Football
(regular period)February 7, 2024D1: April 1, 2024
D2: August 1, 2024
All other D1 and D2 sports November 8, 2023August 1, 2024
Signing on the dotted line of the National Letter of Intent means three things:
You are committed to one year at the university. You do not need to sign an NLI after the first year. The school is required to let you know if your scholarship is being renewed after the first year.
The university is promising to provide an athletic scholarship for that year. The NLI and financial aid package are two separate documents. You will need to sign both. Only Division 1 programs are permitted to offer multi-year athletic aid in an NLI.
Your recruiting journey is over. No other schools can continue to recruit you and you are not permitted to contact coaches at other institutions.
Why only one academic year?
Athletic scholarships are renewable every year at the college’s discretion and the student-athlete is notified annually regarding whether or not the athletic aid has been extended. However, the student-athlete is not required to sign a NLI each year. It is also important to note that the agreement encompasses a full academic year and not only the athletic season.
DO I HAVE TO SIGN A NLI?
No, the National Letter of Intent is a voluntary program for both student-athletes and the colleges choosing to participate.
If it’s voluntary, why should I sign the NLI?
Basically, the NLI provides security for both the college and student-athlete. For the student-athlete, the NLI serves as assurance of an athletic scholarship for one full academic year. It also signals the end of the recruiting process and bans other college programs from pursuing a student athlete. For the college, the NLI focuses on a commitment to the academic institution rather than a team or coach so the student-athlete’s education is the priority.