Athletic Recruiting Coronavirus / COVID-19 NCAA

National Letter of Intent Announces Signing Period Changes

Last Updated: 4/16/2021

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the NCAA suspended in-person recruiting through May 31, 2021 for Division 1 programs.

However, on April 15, 2021, the NCAA Division 1 Council announced that all in-person recruiting for D1 sports will resume starting June 1, 2021. That means coaches will be able to return to their normal recruiting calendars and activities.

Based on this extended “dead period,” the National Letter of Intent announced new Signing Periods for prospective athletes signing their NLI’s during 2020-2021 and enrolling in the 2021-2022 school year.

Learn more about the National Letter of Intent updates, current Signing Periods for the class of 2021 below and how they impacted the class of 2020 below.

National Letter of Intent 2020-2021 Updates

On January 15, 2021, the NLI announced new signing dates for Division 1 football and basketball. Signing dates for both sports have been extended to August 1, 2021.

  • The Division 1 Basketball Regular Signing Period, originally scheduled between April 14-May 19, 2021 was extended until August 1, 2021
  • The Division 1 Football Regular Signing Period, originally scheduled between February 3-April 1, 2021 was also extended until August 1, 2021
  • The Regular Signing Period for all other D1/D2 sports has not changed, and ends on August 1

Do all student-athletes have to sign the NLI?

Student-athletes do not have to sign the National Letter of Intent to compete in college. Recruits can also sign an NLI after the last signing period ends, but it is rare that there will be any roster spots left—especially with the NLI’s decision to extend the 2020-2021 Regular Signing Period until August 1, 2021 for all D1/D2 sports.

Remember, there are no Signing Periods for D3, NAIA and Junior College Programs. While NAIA and NJCAA do have their own versions of the letter, and NCAA D3 recruits often sign a celebratory signing form, they are not considered a binding contract like the NLI. College walk-ons, including preferred, recruited and unrecruited walk-ons at any level do not sign the NLI.

How does this impact the high school class of 2021?

Current Signing Dates for prospective student-athletes who plan to sign during the 2020-2021 academic year and enroll in college in 2021-2022 have been affected. Check out the new Signing Period schedule below: 

Sport(s) Initial Signing Date Final Signing Date
D1 Basketball (Early Period) November 11, 2020 November 18, 2020
D1 Basketball (Regular Period) April 14, 2021 NEW: August 1, 2021
D1 Football (Early Period) December 16, 2020 December 18, 2020
D1 and D2 Football (Midyear JC Transfer) December 16, 2020 January 15, 2021
D1 and D2 Football (Regular Period) February 3, 2021

NEW: D1: August 1, 2021

D2: August 1, 2021

All Other Division 1 and 2 Sports November 11, 2020 August 1, 2021

How did this impact the high school class of 2020?

Previously, for prospective athletes signing in 2019–2020 and enrolling in the 2020–2021 school year, all National Letter of Intent (NLI) signings were suspended through April 15, 2020 for D1 and D2 sports. 

The Division 1 Basketball Regular Signing Period, originally scheduled between April 15-May 20, 2020 was extended until August 1, 2020. The Division 1 and Division 2 Football Regular Signing Periods, originally scheduled between February 5-April 1, 2020 were also extended until August 1, 2020. The Regular Signing Period for all other D1/D2 sports did not change, and closed on August 1.

Student-athletes were able to sign their NLI’s starting April 15, 2020 through August 1, 2020. Senior football and basketball players had more time to sign with D1 and D2 programs. For all other sports, the Signing Period did not change.

Sport(s) Past Signing Period NEW Signing Period
D1 Basketball April 15-May 20, 2020 April 15-August 1, 2020
D1 and D2 Football February 5-April 1, 2020 April 15-August 1, 2020
All Other D1 and D2 Sports November 13, 2019-August 1, 2020 April 15-August 1, 2020

Seniors (class of 2020) who had already signed their NLI were not affected by these changes. However, keep in mind that signing an NLI does not guarantee admission—you must still apply and get accepted into your school in order for the NLI to be valid.  

About the author
Alex Chomik