Signing Day 2018: What’s Changed?

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.

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3 years ago

So glad to see the NCAA is making the jobs of swimming coaches so much easier..heck those coaches barely work any way. Now instead of getting up a 5 am 6 days a week, traveling on weekends or recruiting, hosting Juniors, calling recruits….oh yea and I almost forgot COACHING their team(s) these people have more to do. Too bad the NCAA could not invent a 9 day 34 hour per day work week so these coaches could REALLY WORK. No wonder some are bailing out, taking Medical Leaves of Absence and burning out. I for one truly admire both the student athlete for their impeccable work ethic and devotion AND their coaches who offer their life blood to programs. WAKE… Read more »

Reply to  SocratesLOVESolivesoil
3 years ago

What makes it so much harder on coaches? Doesn’t the elimination of unofficials before junior year reduce the burden and doesn’t the elimination of two distinct signing periods reduce the risk of swimmers changing commitments? Seems like officials for top swimmers will just change to junior year instead of them doing unofficials as juniors and then officials as seniors and everything else remains not so different. Happy to be corrected as I’m not a coach and haven’t seen the new process in action yet.

3 years ago

Just to be clear, the graduating class of 2020 will have to wait until November 14, 2019 to sign their NLIs even though they can take official visits and make verbal commitments (yes, I know they could make verbal commitments before the rule changes). Allowing the Juniors to take official visits did not change the NLI signing process or timeline other than they now have from November 14, 2019 – August 1, 2020 to sign their NLIs.

Rick Paine
Reply to  SwimCoachDad
3 years ago

The actual date will be Nov. 13, 2019. The second Wednesday in November. Nothing is official for the Juniors or coaches until then.

3 years ago

The most significant impact of the change, plus Stanford’s refusal to give early admissions is that for 2019 Stanford Women Swimming has No recruits in the top 20 vs prior years where Stanford got a good portion of those ranked in the top 20.

Reply to  dave
3 years ago

stop spreading #fakenews

coach meehan already signed #7 crisera. #3 berkoff onboard. #1 smith #2 walsh #3 staden #18 nordman lined up for 2020.

another dominating recruiting year by the #1 team 🙂


Reply to  GoMyStanford
3 years ago

There has to be a point where having too many top stars on one team becomes detrimental to each individual’s success even if the team as a whole continues to dominate.

Reply to  GoMyStanford
3 years ago

For anyone reading this who might be unsure, of those GoMyStanford have listed, only Crisera and Nordmann have made public announcements that I’m aware of.

That is to say – GoMyStanford could have some inside track on the other 3 swimmers named, but they have not publicly announced yet.

Reply to  GoMyStanford
3 years ago

Berkoff has not committed or signed.

Reply to  GoMyStanford
3 years ago

The college recruiting web site does not list Any Stanford women recruits in the 2019 class.

About Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant is the mother of four daughters, all of whom swam in college. With an undergraduate degree from Princeton (where she was an all-Ivy tennis player) and an MBA from INSEAD, she worked for many years in the financial industry, both in France and the U.S. Anne is currently …

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