Approximately 37,000 prospective student-athletes sign NLIs to attend NCAA Division I or II institutions. Less than 2 percent request a release.
- 620 NCAA Division I and II institutions are members.
- Not NLI members:
- Ivy League, Service Academies, Division III institutions, NAIA institutions, preparatory schools and junior colleges.
- All members of the NLI program are required to offer athletics scholarships.
The National Letter of Intent
The National Letter of Intent (NLI) is a binding agreement between a prospective student-athlete and an institution in which the institution agrees to provide a prospective student-athlete who is admitted to the institution and is eligible for financial aid under NCAA rules athletics aid for one academic year in exchange for the prospective student-athlete’s agreement to attend the institution for one academic year. All colleges and universities that participate in the NLI program agree to not recruit a prospective student-athlete once he or she signs an NLI with another college or university. Therefore, a prospective student-athlete who signs an NLI should no longer receive recruiting contacts and calls and is ensured an athletics scholarship for one academic year. The NLI must be accompanied by an institutional financial aid agreement. If the prospective student-athlete does not enroll at that institution for a full academic year, he or she may be subject to specific penalties, including loss of a season of eligibility and a mandatory residence requirement.
Breach of NLI by Student-Athlete Prior to Initial Enrollment, Practice and Competition in Order to Attend Another Institution
If you sign an NLI, you are committed to attend that institution for your initial year of collegiate enrollment. If you do not attend the signing institution or attend that institution for less than one academic year and you enroll in another college that participates in the NLI program, there may be eligibility ramifications. The basic penalty may preclude you from representing the second college until you have completed one academic year in residence at the latter institution and you may lose one season of competition in all sports.
For further information, visit the NLI Web site.
When I sign a National Letter of Intent what do I agree to do?
When you sign the National Letter of Intent you agree to attend for one academic year the institution listed on the Letter in exchange for that institution awarding athletics financial aid for one academic year.
Do I sign a National Letter of Intent every year?
No. Although under NCAA rules you must be notified annually regarding whether your athletics aid has been renewed, you only sign an NLI when you first enroll in a four-year institution.
By signing a National Letter of Intent am I guaranteed that I will play on a team?
No. Signing a National Letter of Intent does not guarantee you playing time or a spot on the team. Rather, by signing a National Letter of Intent, the institution with which you signed agrees to provide you athletics financial aid for the academic year.
Am I required to sign a National Letter of Intent?
No. You are not required to sign a National Letter of Intent but many student-athletes sign a National Letter of Intent because they want to create certainty in the recruiting process. Specifically, by signing a National Letter of Intent, you agree to attend the institution for one year in exchange for the institution’s promise, in writing, to provide you athletics financial aid for the entire academic year. Simply, by signing a National Letter of Intent you are given an award including athletics aid for the upcoming academic year provided you are admitted to the institution and you are eligible for athletics aid under NCAA rules. Furthermore, by signing a National Letter of Intent you effectively end the recruiting process. Once you sign a National Letter of Intent, a recruiting ban goes into effect and you may no longer be recruited by any other National Letter of Intent school.
Once I sign a National Letter of Intent may I be recruited by other institutions?
No. Once you sign a National Letter of Intent, all other participating conferences and institutions are obligated to cease recruiting you. Accordingly, you have an obligation to notify any recruiter from a National Letter of Intent institution of the fact you have signed a National Letter of Intent.
If I sign with an NCAA Division I institution may I still sign with a Division II institution?
The true issue is not whether a school is a Division I or Division II institution but whether an institution is a member of the National Letter of Intent program. With more than 600 participating institutions, the NLI program is truly national in scope. All Division I institutions, with the exception of the Service Academies and schools in the Ivy League, are members of the program, and most fully-active Division II institutions participate in the program. No Division III institutions, NAIA schools, preparatory schools, junior colleges, or community colleges participate in the National Letter of Intent program.
Can I make a verbal commitment to a school and sign a National Letter of Intent with a different school?
Yes. A verbal commitment, stating publicly one’s intentions to attend a certain institution, is a non-binding, oral agreement between you and the institution. The only binding nature of the commitment is your word and the institution’s promise. The National Letter of Intent program does not recognize verbal commitments. It is not uncommon for a student to verbally commit to one institution and subsequently sign a National Letter of Intent with another institution. And, on some occasions, a university may accept your verbal commitment and later offer the National Letter of Intent to another prospective student-athlete.
Institutional Financial Aid Reduction/Cancellation
If a student-athlete is receiving institutional financial aid based in any degree on athletics ability, that financial aid MAY be reduced or canceled during the period of award (e.g., during that year or term) only if the student-athlete:
- Renders himself or herself ineligible for intercollegiate competition;
- Misrepresents any information on an application, letter of intent or financial aid agreement;
- Commits serious misconduct, which warrants a substantial disciplinary penalty (the misconduct determination must be made by the university’s regular student disciplinary authority); or
- Voluntarily quits the sport for personal reasons. In this case, the student-athlete’s financial aid may not be given to another student-athlete during the term in which the aid was reduced or canceled.
Institutional financial aid based in any degree on athletics ability MAY NOT be reduced, canceled or increased during the period of award:
- Based on a student-athlete’s ability, performance or contribution to a team’s success;
- Because an injury prevents the student-athlete from participating; or
- For any other athletics reason.
Institutional Financial Aid Renewal/Nonrenewal
Aid based in any degree on athletics ability cannot be awarded in excess of one academic year; the decision of whether a student-athlete is awarded institutional financial aid is made on a year-by-year or term-by-term basis, depending on the regulations of the institution. If a student-athlete is receiving institutional financial aid based in any degree on athletics ability, the institution must notify the student-athlete in writing on or before July 1, whether the aid has been renewed or not renewed for the next academic year. This written notification comes from the institution’s financial aid authority and not from the athletics department.
If the institution decides not to renew the aid or is going to reduce the aid, the institution must notify the student-athlete in writing that he or she has the right to a hearing. This hearing is held before the institutional agency making the award.
Keep in mind that the decision to renew or not renew the financial aid is left to the discretion of the institution, to be determined with its normal practices for students generally.