Simply put, the early signing period is the first time high school seniors can sign a National Letter of Intent (NLI) and scholarship offer. This year’s early signing period is November 8-15, 2017 for all sports except football. New this year, football has created its own early signing period December 20-22, 2017. Below we explain what that means for seniors, juniors, sophomores and freshmen.
Facts about the early signing period
- Athletes sign the National Letter of Intent (NLI), which binds them to the school for one academic year in return for one year of financial aid. For more on the details of the NLI go here.
- The NLI is a contract with the school–not the coach. If the coach leaves the university, the athlete is still under contract with that school.
- Men’s and women’s soccer and men’s water polo do not have an early signing period. More info on sign dates here.
- As a general rule, NCAA DIII schools do not use the NLI.
- Each NAIA schools use their own versions of the NLI and it is not the same as those used by NCAA schools.
- The NLI is also referred to as the “Letter of Intent” or “LOI”; they are the same thing.
Seniors: The first scholarships are gone on early signing day
The early signing period is when the scholarship game of musical chairs begins. If you aren’t signing during this period, you don’t need to panic but you don’t have time to waste. In the weeks after, you should be contacting all of the coaches on your list. If you haven’t had any communication with coaches, you must start reaching out or finding ways to get more exposure to coaches. You can use our free recruiting profile to get started.
Juniors: Early signing period comes after verbal commitments
You may think you have a full year before you need to think about signing, but the truth is, the majority of athletes signing during the early signing period were already committed to their schools early in their junior year. The key to getting early offers is to have exposure to the right colleges and the opportunity to see what schools are interested in you so you can establish contact. While coaches are limited in how they can contact juniors, you are free to contact them on your own. Or, better yet, see what coaches are viewing your profile and then be proactive and call or email them.
Sophomores & Freshmen: Understanding early scholarship offers
One of the most common anxieties for freshmen and sophomore athletes and their parents is hearing about other athletes your age getting scholarship offers while you aren’t. When athletes are getting scholarship offers in their first years of high school, those offers are unofficial and can change. This means, if you aren’t getting offers, you need to take steps to get them. That includes evaluating potential schools, focusing on your grades (better grades equal more scholarship offers) and making a plan with your coaches for the critical final years of high school.
Any time an athlete gets to commit to a school, it is a celebration. Whether that is an early signing period or a mid-summer preferred walk-on offer, the work required is the same. If you have additional questions or want a second opinion on what you should be doing, please call our recruiting experts at 1-866-495-5172 or schedule an evaluation.