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Why Signing Day Is Important For Student-Athletes

signing a letter on early signing day

This signing day – an exciting time for football, men’s and women’s soccer and men’s water polo players – is coming on February 3. Seniors in those sports will be able to sign their letters of intent and have written commitment to play their sport at their school.

Of course this signing day isn’t for everyone. If you aren’t a senior yet, or if you don’t play one of those sports, you might think that you should just let February 3 pass you by unnoticed.

But while other student-athletes are celebrating the end of their recruiting journey, you can still take steps to work on yours. Click here for a roundup of a few ways you can work on your recruiting on signing day.

And no matter where you are in your recruiting process, at this time of year it’s always important to remember the difference between verbal commitments and written commitemnts.

Signing day gives student-athletes written commitments.

We recently covered the story of a back-and-forth that happened with a top offensive lineman who decommitted from one school, then might have recommitted, but really didn’t.

Trying to untangle the thread still makes my head spin.

At the heart of that story is the difference between a verbal commitment and a written commitment: Verbal agreements for athletic scholarships are completely non-binding, and can be confusing for student-athletes who think they’ve gotten into a school, and secured a roster spot, when neither’s actually happened. (We wrote about how Ivy League coaches, and others, want to do away with verbal commitments for this reason.)

This signing day, and other signing periods (which fall in November and April), are a time for student-athletes and schools that use the National Letter (which don’t include NAIA or Division III schools) to confirm their commitment in a contractual agreement. What signing a national letter means is:

  • the student-athlete commits to attend the school for one year
  • the school promises to provide athletic financial aid for the entire academic year
  • the recruiting process is officially over for the athlete

The only time a student-athlete might continue a recruiting process after they’ve signed their letter of intent is if they decide to transfer — which is subject to a completely different set of rules.

Should student-athletes celebrate getting a verbal offer?

If there’s all of this emphasis put on this signing day and on signing a written commitment, should you even celebrate when a coach makes a verbal offer?

Of course.

The regulations in place around verbal commitments versus written commitments are there to help protect student-athletes and college institutions, both. But verbal agreements are usually made by coaches with an understanding to their own athletic director that they’re only offering student-athletes who meet the department’s, school’s and NCAA’s requirements.

So while situations may come up that affect whether either a student-athlete decommits or an institution no longer honors the verbal commitment, there’s still a lot to be proud of – and a lot of reasons to celebrate – when you reach a verbal commitment from a college program.

Do you have more questions about how you can get a verbal commitment or written commitment? We can help you connect with coaches and find the right roster spot. The best way to get started is with a recruiting profile.

About the author
Andy McKernan

Andy McKernan is the content strategist at NCSA Athletic Recruiting. A content marketer with a background in creative writing, Andy brings several years of experience to NCSA.