What is National Signing Day?



We are less than one month away from National Signing Day. While not part of the official NCAA Recruiting Calendar, National Signing Day is an important date in the college recruiting process. Below we breakdown what National Signing Day is and what it means to sign a National Letter of Intent (NLI).

What is National Signing Day?

National Signing Day kicks off a period of time when high school senior can sign an NLI for a to commit to a college program and accept a scholarship. For most NCAA D1 and D2 sports, National Signing Day is on November 10, 2021. Football and basketball athletes have two different signing periods, which you can read about here. Because the signing period spans from November 10, 2021 to August 1, 2022, student-athletes do not need to sign their NLI on the first day of the Signing Period. That being said, it is rare that there will be any open roster spots after November 10.

View the full National Signing Day schedule here.

What is a National Letter of Intent?

The National Letter of Intent (NLI) is a contract signed by both the student-athlete and their college that must include an athletic aid agreement or athletic scholarship offer for their first academic year. Student-athletes must be enrolling at a four-year NCAA D1 or D2 institution for the first time or transferring to a four-year institution from a two-year college to be eligible to sign the NLI.

Once you’ve receives an NLI document, you have seven days to sign it from the issue date (noted on the document). If you receive the NLI document before the Signing Period window opens, they must wait until 7 a.m. of the first date of the period.

Signing on the dotted line of the National Letter of Intent means three things:

  1. Your student-athlete has committed to one year at the university. While the NLI is only a one-year contract, student-athletes do not have to re-sign every year. The school is required to let student-athletes know if their scholarship is being renewed after the first year.
  2. The university is promising to provide an athletic scholarship for that year. The NLI and financial aid package are two separate documents. Your student-athlete will need to sign both. Only Division 1 programs are permitted to offer multi-year athletic aid in an NLI.
  3. Your student-athlete’s recruiting journey is over. No other schools can continue to recruit them and they are not permitted to contact coaches at other institutions.

Check out this video to hear NCSA recruiting experts Kyle Winters and David Kmiecik break down why student-athletes sign an NLI, how college athletes are notified about their athletic scholarship renewal and what athletes should know about negotiating offers before officially signing their NLI.

Keep in mind that NAIA and NJCAA schools have their own versions of the letter. If your student-athlete is attending school in one of those divisions, be sure to understand the nuances of those letter programs.

What happens after an athlete signs their NLI?

Signing an NLI signals the end of an athlete’s recruiting process. Once you’ve signed and submitted your NLI, take time to celebrate, but don’t forget your work isn’t done. You still need to be admitted to the school and receive final certification from the NCAA Eligibility Center. Without this certification, your NLI will be null and void and you will lose your scholarship.