In April, the NCAA Division I Council made sweeping changes to the way student-athletes are recruited for all sports except football and men’s and women’s basketball (which have their own rules). Three months later, changes were made to the NLI (National Letter of Intent)* signing dates for the 2018-19 year. (We wrote about those changes here.)
NLIs are one-year scholarship agreements that make up the framework of the NCAA scholarship system. An NLI is a binding agreement between an athlete and a school in which the athlete agrees to attend the school and the school agrees to provide athletic financial aid – in college recruiting, the NLI is essentially the finish line, as athletes can no longer ‘de-commit’ without losing a year of eligibility. A verbal commitment is a non-binding agreement that a recruit can change (and schools can rescind roster spots or scholarship offers), but signing an NLI makes the scholarship offer (and intent to attend school and compete for that school in the NCAA) official and binding.
While nothing changed for Division I basketball and football, which still have an early and regular signing period, all other sports (Division I and II) moved to one signing period, from November 14, 2018 to August 1, 2019. Previously, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, for example, had split signing periods during which schools and athletes could sign NLIs for the upcoming school year. Last year’s high school seniors could sign during the Early Signing Period from November 8, 2017 to November 15, 2017, locking down their scholarship offers early. Prospects who didn’t sign within that period had to wait for the regular period, from April 11, 2018 to August 1, 2018.
For athletes in the high school class of 2019, the two signing periods have been joined and now extend from November 14, 2018 until August 1, 2019 in most Division I and II sports. You can see all the signing periods for the 2019-2020 school year on the NLI website here.
The NCAA Recruiting Dead Period began today, Monday, November 12, 2018 and lasts through Thursday, November 15, 2018 for all sports except football. Coaches cannot have in-person contact or evaluations on or off their campus with prospects or their parents during the dead period.
*The NCAA manages the daily operations of the NLI program while the Collegiate Commissioners Association (CCA) provides governance oversight of the program.