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FAQs About the NLI and Signing Day

What is the National Letter of Intent?

The NLI is a binding agreement between a prospective student athlete and an NLI member institution

  • A prospective student athlete agrees to attend the institution full time for one academic year (two semesters or three quarters
  • The institution agrees to provide financial aid for one academic year 

Penalty for breaking this contract

  • Student athletes have to serve one year in residence at the next NLI member institution
  • Sit out for one season of competition in all sports

What is Signing Day?

  • Signing day is the day you actually sign the NLI


Does every division 1 and 2 athlete sign an NLI?

  • Most people will say that every D1 and D2 athlete will sign an NLI, but this is not the case.
  • It is not so much about being in a certain division as it is whether or not the school is a member of the NLI program.
  • There are 600 schools who participate in the NLI program
  • All D1 schools are involved with NLI except for service academies and Ivy league.
  • A majority of D2 programs participate in the program
  • No D3, NAIA, Prep schools or 2 year colleges participate
  • For a complete list of schools who participate in the NLI, visit the NCAA’s website

Is the NLI binding if the coach leaves the institution?

  • Yes, you sign the NLI with the institution, not with the coach

Can a coach rescind an NLI?


  • When a school drafts up the NLI, they are committing the agreed upon funds for at least one year and cannot break that commitment, regardless of injury or any other reason

Can a college coach be present on signing day?

  • No, a college coach cannot be present when you sign an NLI off-campus. NCAA rules say that it is strictly prohibited for a coach to be present at the signing of the NLI or any related activities. The rules also prohibit the coach delivering the NLI in person.

When is signing day?

  • There is a early signing period for some sports
  • The most recognized signing period nationally is the first Wednesday in February, which this year falls on the first

*Basketball (Early Period) Nov. 9, 2011 Nov. 16, 2011

* All Other Sports Not Listed (Early Period) Nov. 9, 2011 Nov. 16, 2011

* Football (Midyear JC Transfer) Dec. 21, 2011 Jan. 15, 2012

*Football (Regular Period) Feb. 1, 2012 April 1, 2012

* Field Hockey, Soccer, Track and Field, Cross Country, Men’s Water Polo Feb. 1, 2012 Aug. 1, 2012

* Basketball (Regular Period) April 11, 2012 May 16, 2012

* All Other Sports Not Listed (Regular Period) April 11, 2012 Aug. 1, 2012

About the author
Aaron Sorenson